India’s president honors the Bab’s historic bicentenary
NEW DELHI — Honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and more than 160 dignitaries, civil society and faith leaders, academics, and artists gathered at the country’s National Baha’i Centre for a historic reception on Tuesday.
Addressing the gathering, President Kovind stated that “the contributions made by the Baha’i community of India, along with others, many of whom are present at the gathering, have helped build vibrant communities across India.”
“This includes working for the education of both girls and boys, expanding the concept of worship to include work carried out in a spirit of service, and seeking to bring about spiritual, social, and material progress simultaneously,” he continued.
Reflecting on the event, Nazneen Rowhani, the Secretary of India’s Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly, said that “it was an immense honor for the Baha’i community to receive the president at this historic gathering. This was also an opportunity to share with President Kovind about the advancement of the Baha’i Faith in India.”
The country’s Baha’i community has been focused on cultivating peace at the grassroots and contributing to prevalent thinking about social harmony, including raising schools that emphasize both material and spiritual education and participating in social discourses concerned with the status of women, the rights and welfare of children, and religious coexistence.
Expressing its appreciation and gratitude, the Baha’i community presented the head of state with a plaque made of the same marble that was used to build the Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi. The Temple is one of the country’s most recognized structures and has come to be seen as a symbol for unity, a place of worship and meditation for thousands of visitors each day from all walks of life.
At the gathering, the president greeted each attendee, among whom were youth engaged in their community’s efforts to effect social change. President Kovind was also joined by his wife and their daughter. This is the first time that a president of India has visited the National Centre.
Speaking of Baha’i communities throughout the world, President Kovind said “these communities are defining themselves by their commitment to the oneness of humanity—thereby echoing the proud Indian tradition of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” referencing a well-known Sanskrit phrase that means “the world is one single family.”