Naw-Ruz this year marks centenary of entombment of the Bab

18 March 2009

HAIFA, Israel — On March 21, Baha'is around the world will mark Naw-Ruz - their new year - a date that this year coincides with the 100th anniversary of the interment of the remains of the Bab on Mount Carmel.

On Naw-Ruz in 1909, 'Abdu'l-Baha, then the head of the Baha'i Faith, laid to rest the mortal remains of the Bab. 'Abdu'l-Baha personally placed the precious trust in its place in a building he had had constructed on Mount Carmel in Haifa.

The original structure was later surrounded by a formal colonnade and crowned with a golden dome to make it a fitting burial site for the Bab, the first of two Messengers of God associated with the Baha'i Faith. Both lived in the 19th century, with the Bab's mission being to announce the imminent coming of Baha'u'llah, considered by Baha'is the long-awaited promised one of all religions.

The Bab was executed in the public square in Tabriz, Persia (now Iran), in 1850, and His remains were hidden in that country for nearly 50 years until being secretly brought to the Holy Land and hidden another decade before being laid to their final rest.

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The original building is still visible at the Shrine of the Bab. The colonnade and golden dome were added later, with the work completed in 1953. (Photo copyright Baha'i World Centre)

Baha'u'llah was also from Persia but was banished from His native land and eventually exiled to the Acre-Haifa area. Before His passing in 1892, Baha'u'llah gave instructions to 'Abdu'l-Baha to have the remains of the Bab brought from Persia and interred at a specific site on Mount Carmel.

'Abdu'l-Baha thus arranged for the purchase of the land; the building of an adequate structure for the interment; and a road to the site on what at that time was still a rough, undeveloped mountainside. The Baha'is of Rangoon, Burma, sent a sarcophagus to use for the entombment.

The circumstances of that significant event 100 years ago are described in the Baha'i history "God Passes By":

"'Abdu'l-Baha had the marble sarcophagus transported with great labor to the vault prepared for it, and in the evening, by the light of a single lamp, he laid within it, with his own hands - in the presence of believers from the East and from the West and in circumstances at once solemn and moving - the wooden casket containing the sacred remains of the Bab. ..."