World illumined by light of bicentenary celebrations

22 October 2017

BAHA'I WORLD CENTRE — Two hundred years after the birth of Baha’u’llah, countless communities in every corner of the globe are honoring His compelling vision of a better world.

In Iran, the land where Baha’u’llah was born and where His Faith has suffered endless waves of persecution, one of the many simple gestures of unity came from a Muslim family, who offered a beautifully decorated cake as a gift to their Baha’i neighbors in honor of the bicentenary. Particularly poignant was the fact that some members of that family only a generation before had been antagonistic towards the Faith and had even refused to touch Baha’is, believing them to be unclean.

Throughout Europe, gatherings both large and small have attracted many participants today. In Paris, at an apartment that was once graced by the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, a small group of dignitaries and other prominent officials met this morning to say prayers together. This intimate event followed a set of round table discussions held by the Baha’i community on social cohesion and inclusion in France.

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Princess Soamsawali watches a dance performance at a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth in Bangkok.

Another significant aspect of the bicentenary period in France unfolded in Corsica. For the first time, a selection of Baha’i prayers and writings has been translated into the Corsican language and published in a bilingual Corsican and French book. A musical composition in Corsican can be heard here.

In Thailand, the Royal Family was represented by Princess Soamsawali at the bicentenary celebration held at the Baha’i Centre in Bangkok. The evening’s program featured music, prayers, and traditional Thai dances. The gathering was attended by nearly 250 participants and was one of many commemorations held in the country today.

At the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Vancouver, Canada, over 200 participants gathered to commemorate the bicentenary with traditional indigenous dance and music. A dignitary from a local First Nations community welcomed everyone with a prayer in his native language.

“I prayed that you would all recognize the truth in Baha’u’llah’s words,” he told the audience afterwards.

Baha’is have at times been astounded by the number of their friends and neighbors who wish to participate in celebrations. A community of just ten Baha’is in Ohio received 150 guests at a formal dinner that they hosted yesterday.

Across the continent of Africa, communities have been celebrating in every setting, gathering in homes for prayers, meeting in the streets for parades, and holding commemorations that reach thousands of people. These festivities are animated by a spirit of joy—some including singing, drumming, or dancing.

The film Light to the World has continued to be screened throughout the weekend in living rooms, cinemas, stadiums, and tents.

At Baha’i Houses of Worship across the world, thousands have gathered throughout the weekend for celebrations. A broadcast of the most recent devotional program at the Temple in Wilmette will start at 20:30 GMT and can be live streamed on the official bicentenary website.