Ground broken for the Colombia House of Worship

May 25, 2016
A young boy prays during the temple groundbreaking in Agua Azul on 22 May.

NORTE DEL CAUCA, Colombia — Sunday marked the historic groundbreaking for the local Baha'i House of Worship for Norte del Cauca in Colombia.

Some 700 people gathered on the temple land in the small village of Agua Azul, in the municipality of Villa Rica, including the Mayor, Mrs. Jenny Nair Gomez.

Addressing the audience, Mrs. Nair Gomez explained how the House of Worship "resonates with the vision of spirituality that our forbears taught us".

"For us Nortecaucanos, to have a House of Worship is a source of pride," she said. "We want above all to establish a spirit of brotherhood. We share this land, and this is our House of Worship. As neighbors, we draw inspiration from it to work together for the advancement of our village and region."

The event comprised devotions and talks by dignitaries and representatives of Baha'i institutions.

Marking the actual groundbreaking, a symbolic ceremony combined the soil brought by representatives of some 60 communities. The soil was deposited in a traditional clay vessel, called a "tinaja", typically used for water. The soil symbolizes freedom, as the land in this region was inhabited by former slaves—Afro-Colombians who left large plantations and settled in Norte del Cauca in the nineteenth century. The ceremony connected the groundbreaking of the temple with the history of the region.

The House of Worship, whose design was unveiled in September 2014, is one of the first local Baha'i temples to be built, among four others announced by the Universal House of Justice in 2012. The House of Justice has described the local temple as "a focal point of worship, a nerve centre of community life" where the people of the community can gather "at daybreak for humble invocation before flowing out of its doors to engage in their daily pursuits".

A joyous occasion for those who attended the historic groundbreaking ceremony. Slideshow
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A joyous occasion for those who attended the historic groundbreaking ceremony.

The grounds of the House of Worship will also include facilities for institutions and agencies dedicated to promoting community well-being, bringing together worship and service as two essential and inseparable elements of Baha'i life. There is a vibrant Baha'i community in Norte del Cauca that is working with the people of the region for the spiritual and material advancement of neighborhoods and villages in the area, and the Temple will naturally be an integral component of this process of community building that surrounds it.