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What is Ridvan and Why Does it Have 12 Days?

Pictured above is a fountain in the Ridvan Garden, located outside the city of Akka, Israel. (Photo courtesy of Natascha M via Flickr)

Ridvan is a twelve-day festival, spanning the 13th day of Jalal to the 5th of Jamal of the Baha’i calendar, signifying the 12 days Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan meeting with visitors before His exile to Constantinople. Ridvan (which means “paradise” in Arabic) commemorates Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of all religions.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the ‘Everlasting Father,’ the ‘Lord of Hosts’ come down ‘with ten thousands of saints’; to Christendom Christ returned ‘in the glory of the Father,’ to Shi’ih Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the ‘Spirit of God’; to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

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How a Neighbourhood Becomes a Village in Savannah, Georgia

It’s always inspiring seeing what Baha’is around the world are doing in their local communities. This video from Bahai.us, documents the story of one of the rougher neighbourhoods in Savannah, Georgia near a Baha’i Unity Center. Local Baha’is set out to involve the community in activities, to serve the community and to create a real bond with the surrounding neighbours through their center.

For me the most inspiring part is the men’s study circle that some of the local residents form, calling themselves One of Us, and doing a huge variety of service projects including taking local kids to baseball games, visiting nursing homes and serving at a soup kitchen. Eventually One of Us starts a really awesome community event called Movies on the Wall where they screen movies on a giant wall in a nearby vacant lot. Continue reading

Living a Coherent Life

Image Courtesy of Seafaring Woman

Image by Seafaringwoman (Flickr)

Have you ever thought about all the different spheres of your life? Like most people you probably have work, family, friends, and if you are a Baha’i, your Baha’i life. How do these different parts fit together?

Last year while reading the Baha’i World News service, I came across the idea of “a coherent life”. The idea that these different parts of your life – work, family, friends, your beliefs and your ideals – should all make sense together.

Like most good ideas, a coherent life makes sense intuitively. In fact once you start to think about it, not living your life in this manner seems hypocritical. How can you be one person in one part of your life, and another somewhere else? Yet doing just this is surprisingly easy to do.

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Social Discourse: Blogging while Baha’i

Image by thomasfrederick (Flickr)

This post, as the title might suggest, is going to be about blogging. And why I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

But you already know all about that. You know what blogs do. You know what they look like. You might even have a few favourites that you check regularly.You’re an internet-savvy citizen of the world wide web with sophisticated tastes. (Clearly the case if you’re reading Baha’i Blog!) You’ve mastered the art of using Google to become a mini-expert in just about any field and you can make a sentence using “facebook” as a verb.

So, you know what blogs are about. Age of technology, yadda yadda. Online communication, blah blah blah. Really, what else possibly needs to be said about blogging? Probably not all that much. Except for this:

You need to be part of this.

Yes, you – sitting there, reading this. Why? Good question.

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The Virtue of Joyfulness

Image by a4gpa (Flickr)

I don’t like the word “stress”. It’s a Madison Avenue word. It’s something that can be cured with flavoured coffee and bath bubbles.

These words, spoken by the fictional President Josiah Bartlett, are – in my not-so-objective, The-West-Wing-obsessed opinion – one of the best encapsulations of how our society deals with stress.

We don’t!

We all know what it’s like to constantly have too much to do and too little time to do it. We’re constantly overworked, sleep-deprived, trying to catch our breath and fatigued. We live in a society that is overwhelmingly anxious and unhappy.

But perhaps what is more dangerous than all of that is our acceptance of these levels of stress as normal. Getting by on four hours of sleep and bucketfuls of coffee is something of a badge of honour in many circles. In a world where there are so many things to do, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re probably just not doing enough. Or that’s what we’re encouraged to believe anyway.

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21 Stunning Photos of Baha’i Houses of Worship

If you’ve never visited one of the seven Baha’i Houses of Worship, it’s really worth doing. Not only are they a serene place to pray and meditate, but are also simply stunningly beautiful to look at. The temples are spread out across the world, with an eighth currently under construction in Chile and sites chosen in forty five more countries.

Abdu’l-Baha has said that:

…the original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity–places of meeting where various peoples, different races and souls of every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them . . . that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter …Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 65

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Bahai.us Rolling Out a New Website

It’s been about 16 years since the internet really started going mainstream, and these days we take it very much for granted that most organizations will have a website. Baha’i communities around the world have been slowly but steadily getting online for some time now. What is exciting to me as a web designer is that through further iterations some of our online Baha’i sites are actually starting to get pretty useful and full-featured. Continue reading

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

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