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Junior Youth: The UN Chimes In

UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2011 Report

Every year, UNICEF publishes it’s flagship report “State of the World’s Children”. This report – read by thousands of people in governments, the United Nations, the media and the general public – typically examines a key issue affecting the welfare of children and strongly influences policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of children’s rights around the world.

So, it is exciting to see how policy-making at both the national and international levels will respond to the bold statement underlying the entire report: Young people, truly, can change the world.

The report , titled “Adolescence – An age of opportunity”, begins to question many of the assumptions that have been made about adolescents by society  and implores policy-makers to recognise both the incredibly vulnerability of adolescents, where investments into their well-being and development have not been made, as well as the tremendous capacity of these very same individuals, where those investments have been made. (Download the State of the World’s Children 2011 report or watch the UNICEF video summaring the report.)

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Is Naw-Ruz an Iranian Holiday or a Baha’i Holy Day?

Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Common Questions Series’. As the name suggests, these are questions about the Faith that we often get. You know those ones – where you kinda, sorta, maybe  know the answer but aren’t sure if you know enough to give the asker a full response? Yeah, those ones. Baha’i Blog has decided to make a collection of those questions, which will hopefully be as helpful to you, our readers, as it is to us!

We’ve been getting a few questions recently about Naw-Ruz and its origins as a Baha’i Holy Day, so we’ll start with that!

Image by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie (Flickr)

Is Naw-Ruz an Iranian holiday or a Baha’i Holy Day?

Naw-Ruz (which in Persian literally means “New Day”) is a New Year holiday for both Iranians and Baha’is celebrated on the first day of spring but the significance and celebrations between the two are slightly different.

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Breaking News: Baha’i Leaders Sentenced to 20 Years

Baha'i Leaders in Iran Sentenced to 20 Years

According to a report by Iran Press Watch, the Appeals Court in Iran has sentenced seven Baha’i leaders to 20 years in prison. This sentence, which was initially handed down in August 2010 by Iran’s Revolutionary Court, was reduced on 15 September 2010 from 20 to 10 years. This change has since been ignored, with the 20 year sentence being affirmed today. Continue reading

Naw-Ruz: A Time for Renewal

Image by matio_svk (Flickr)

I’m a big fan of new years. I’ll admit it. I celebrate the new year as many times in a year as I possibly can. Growing up in a country with four officially recognised ethnic groups, I milked the multiple calendars for all they were worth. I would attend midnight mass every New Year’s Eve. I would line up for my ang bao and scarf down bakkwa every Chinese New Year. Diwali was yet another opportunity for festive fun. (One year, looking for an additional opportunity to celebrate, I attempted to appropriate the Russian Orthodox New Year. This was, however, met with some skepticism from my friends.) So the recent addition of Naw-Ruz as another new year that I get to celebrate has been a source of joy, as you might imagine.

Why the new year fixation? Simply put, I love new beginnings. I love turning a new page in the diary. I find peace in pausing for a breath and thinking about all that has been and marching forward with a plan of attack – boldly stepping into a new day.

Naw-Ruz. A new day.

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Fasting: So it’s not just about food?

Image by Mamchenkov (Flickr)

The Baha’i Fasthas just ended. I’ve been fasting for 20 years now and I’m embarrassed to say that I still find that I have to constantly remind myself that the Fast is not just about the food! Okay, so for those of you who don’t know me, you should know that ohhhh I love food! My family and I are renowned for talking about how much we like food and the different types of food we like, even while sitting around a table and having a meal together. In fact, there’s even a Tablet written by Baha’u’llah to my family some generations back, which relates to – you guessed it – FOOD!

Most of us identify the Baha’i fast with the act of not eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset. But as Shoghi Effendi explains, there’s much, much more to it than that:

It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian

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Nineteen Days: Photos from the Fast

Photo by Layli for Nineteen Days

A very cool collaborative art project that takes place every year during the Baha’i Fast is Nineteen Days, a project started by friends and fellow bloggers Leila and Amy.

For each of the nineteen days of the fasting month, the pair invite Baha’i photographers to share their special moments at sunrise and sunset, caught as the photographers begin and end their days of fasting. The imagery is often haunting, evocative and serene. Each day’s post is accompanied by quotes from the Baha’i writings as well as comments from the photographer.

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16 Novel Ideas for Your Next Holy Day

Every year, as Baha’is, we gather for eleven holy days including the festive celebratory days like Naw Ruz and Ridvan, as well as the more commemorative days that mark the Ascension of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. And like everything in the Baha’i Faith, hosting these gatherings is something that is open to one and all.

The first time I hosted a holy day, I wasn’t totally sure what to do. There were twenty people attending and, beyond gathering some prayers, I didn’t know what else could go into a holy day celebration. Since then I’ve been compiling ideas so that next time I’ll be ready!

Listed below are sixteen ideas for your next holy day event listed below. If you have some suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Photo by Madcowk (Flickr)

1. Run a Drum Circle

A drum circle is a fun way to bring a community together. It simply entails getting everyone some sort of percussion instrument, setting a steady beat and sharing rhythm! If you have access to them, African Djembe drums will give you a real throbbing beat, but you can make do with all sorts of make-shift percussion. If you have someone with a good sense of rhythm to lead the circle, this can work well. A simple introductory activity is to have the leader tap out a beat and then have the other participants ‘reply’ with the same beat.

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Welcome to the Newly Relaunched Baha’i Blog

Hello and welcome to the newly relaunched Baha’i Blog! I’m Preethi, your friendly editor, who together with Collis, Naysan and Vahid, make up the Baha’i Blog team. So, what exactly is Baha’i Blog? Baha’i Blog is a project which aims to create a cosy little nook in the blogosphere for Baha’is and friends of the Faith alike. As Baha’is, we all know what it’s like to live with an awareness that you truly do have family (spiritual, if not biological) all over the world. This blog aims to mirror that by creating an online community around the Baha’i Faith and connecting people from all over the world.

Baha’i Blog first found life as a project run by Ryan Lash some years back, but with his hectic travel schedule, Ryan kindly permitted the site to be recreated and relaunched as you see it now. We’ve gone live on Naw-Ruz 2011 and in our first few months will be working on making the blog an online resource where Baha’is and friends of the Faith around the world are able to access a wealth of information. Continue reading

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