Iconic "Lotus Temple" focus of worldwide campaign
NEW DELHI — Step onto a bus in Ottawa, Canada; open a magazine in Paris, France; or look upwards at Rimini's railway station in Italy – all around the world, India's Baha'i House of Worship is capturing the public's attention.
To coincide with its 25th anniversary year, the lotus-shaped temple is being depicted on striking posters in 14 countries from South Africa to Japan, from the U.S.A. to Singapore.
It is all part of the Incredible India campaign, the Indian government's international strategy to showcase the cultural diversity and special achievements of the country.
"India represents the spirituality of all mankind," said the Honorable Union Minister for Tourism, Subodh Kant Sahai, "and the Baha'i temple is the one place where people belonging to any faith or religion can go for meditation or prayer."
The Baha'i House of Worship in New Delhi opened in December 1986 after more than six years of construction. It is estimated that 70 million people have visited the temple since its opening – averaging 8,000 to 10,000 every day – making it one of the world's most visited buildings.
"This is a unique place to be visited," said Sultan Ahmed, Minister of State for Tourism. "It has world-class architecture, serene surroundings and an elevating atmospere."
The temple is one of only seven Baha'i Houses of Worship in the world, open to all people for silent worship and contemplation.
This message of inclusiveness is also a feature of the Incredible India campaign, said Naznene Rowhani, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India.
"Everybody who sees these posters will know that it is a temple, but more importantly, also what it stands for and symbolizes. These posters proclaim it to be the 'Baha'i House of Worship – India's symbol of communal harmony,' or 'India's symbol of the oneness of humankind,' or of 'unity of religions,'" said Ms. Rowhani.
A message of peace
Immediately following the Incredible India initiative, the image of the temple will also be appearing as part of another campaign in Delhi itself. The Delhi Meri Jaan ("My Beloved Delhi") initiative was launched last year.
"We commemorate 25 years of the temple and 100 years of the existence of the modern Delhi that we have today. It's a great coincidence." explained Shelia Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi.
"This is a beautiful building. It has become an iconic symbol."
The appeal of the temple is that it "encompasses everybody," the Chief Minister added.
"The Baha'i Faith is a very attractive faith. The message it gives to mankind is one of peace, prosperity and happiness..." she says.
Around 4,000 visitors from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the 25th anniversary celebrations at the House of Worship next month.
"As these poster campaigns clearly show, the temple belongs to everybody – every religion, creed and people," said Naznene Rowhani, "so it is natural that the celebration of its 25th anniversary will also be inclusive of everybody."