Rapidly approaching bicentenary galvanizes communities across Asia
BATTAMBANG, Cambodia — Across the vast lands of Asia, preparations for the bicentenary gain momentum daily.
As the sun rises in Battambang, residents near the local Baha’i House of Worship gather at dawn to pray and consult about their plans for the upcoming historic anniversary. “We are doing our best to be ready for the celebrations and to provide opportunities for many people to contribute to community building efforts,” says local resident Chanserey Ing.
The Temple, acting as a focal point for preparations, is attracting growing numbers of visitors who come to pray and reflect on their efforts to contribute to the life of their society. A group of Buddhist monks and several university students, for instance, recently visited the local House of Worship to explore the Baha’i teachings and their implications for social progress.
Such purposeful conversations as these are also taking place among friends and neighbors throughout the continent. For example, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, shopkeepers pause for a moment in their busy day to reflect on profound questions about the spiritual dimensions of life. Their discussion draws inspiration from the life of the Bab and the relevance of the Baha’i teachings to the state of the world today.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Baha’i community of Daidanaw, Myanmar, is undertaking special projects in honor of the bicentenary, including the repair and construction of a neighborhood road.
Throughout India, communities are vigorously preparing for the coming bicentenary in a variety of ways. In New Delhi, activities at the Baha’i Lotus Temple are attracting growing numbers of people from diverse backgrounds to pray and serve together. In Bramhapara, in the state of Assam, youth and young adults have built a covered meeting area to hold spiritual education classes for young people. In the town of Ahwa, the community has dubbed a segment of the film A Widening Embrace in Dangi, a local language spoken in Gujarat and other states. The film, community members say, will help more people to understand the purpose and aims of the Baha’i community and its activities.
A group of youth in Istanbul, Turkey, has recently painted a colorful mural on a building in their neighborhood. This project has inspired others in the area to join the effort to beautify their surroundings. “We carried out this project to raise awareness in our region about the importance of serving together,” says one of the youth from the group.
Many individuals and communities are channeling their joyful spirit of this special period into music. In Azerbaijan, a group of musicians, poets, and other artists has produced an album of songs in Azeri, English, Persian, and Russian. Another group in Jordan has recorded a song about the Bab and His early followers. Some of the Bab’s prayers have been put to music by a Baha’i from Kuwait. In Itanagar, India, a group has composed an album putting to music Baha’i writings in various Indian languages.