Global Conferences: The arts promote peace, inspire service to society
BAHÁ’Í WORLD CENTRE — As the wave of conferences sweeping across the globe continues, artistic expressions emerging from these gatherings are conveying an essential longing of the human soul: the need to seek harmony and to selflessly serve society.
Through these artistic works—be they music, theater, visual art, traditional dance, crafts, or other art forms—participants at the grassroots in virtually every part of the world are exploring profound spiritual concepts, such as justice, peace, and unity.
The following is a sampling of the countless artistic works that have been inspired by the series of global conferences.
In Islamabad, Pakistan, participants at a local conference contributed to art pieces on themes such as harmony between religion and science, the equality of women and men, and freedom from prejudice.
In Macedonia, a collaborative “pop-up” art piece was produced depicting a loving and peaceful community. The text on the bottom of the piece reads: “Dear friends, in front of you lies a vision of the future.”
This performance at a gathering in Niger featured a song about the hope that all the nations of the earth will come together in unity and peace.
A group of youth in Queensland, Australia, have been performing a musical play titled “What Kind of World” at conferences in the region. The performance follows the story of Clara and Hyde Dunn, an American couple who moved to Australia in the early 1900s to promote Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings of peace.
A group of youth in Almería, Spain, produced a song about peace. The song begins with the lyrics:
In my neighborhood I see the light,
of life and love,
My diverse neighbors,
they help each other,
together for peace.
Pictured here is a collage of artistic expressions of different spiritual concepts made by participants at a conference in Hawaii.
Participants at a gathering in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sing a song written by youth that was inspired by the many themes discussed during the conference, including promoting peace and fostering unity.
A video has been produced in Russia welcoming people to participate in the upcoming conferences that will be held in that country.
Seen here are some of the artistic works created by children at a local conference in Karachi, Pakistan. One of the pieces shows a diverse garden inspired by the words of Bahá’u’lláh, “In the garden of thy heart, plant naught but the rose of love.” One of the activities involved the decoration of butterfly wings based on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s quote: “Joy gives us wings to fly!”
Youth at a gathering in Turkey perform a shadow presentation. One youth stated, “This story draws on the imagery of a garden to describe how clearing the weeds is like serving our society, it creates beauty and harmony.”
A song and video made in Tripura, India, for the series of gatherings being held throughout the country includes the following lyrics:
Come on friends from far-off and nearby
Come on from all sorts of societies
We shall build a new world of peace & unity
There shall be a society of compassion
Cooperation will be in every soul
Pictured here are a series of invitations welcoming people to conferences being held in Germany.
A musical performance at this local conference in Papua New Guinea highlights themes explored at the gathering.
Seen here is a collection of art pieces inspired by discussions at a conference in the United Kingdom. The woven paper symbolizes the interconnectedness of people in fostering peaceful communities.
An artist at a conference in Melbourne, Australia, painted a series of pieces on themes such as transformation, universal education, unity in diversity, and vibrant communities.
Seen here is a graphic design featured on flyers produced for a conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The design features imagery of a shanyrak – a crosshatch trellis that supports the upper dome portion of a yurt (traditional tent-like dwelling). The shanyrak was used in the design as a symbol of unity, covering the whole earth.
At a gathering in Argentina, a puppet show about stewardship of the planet described the relationship between humanity and nature.
Seen here is basket weaving in the South Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This activity was inspired by similar artistic expressions at conferences in Bukavu, Nundu, and Chanjavu.
Seen here is a collective art piece on display at a conference in San Diego, United States.
In the Dominican Republic, a drum band performs at a local conference.
At a conference in Armenia, participants decorated clay pendants based on the various themes of the gathering, including oneness, family, fostering peaceful communities, and moral education.
At this conference in Belgium, participants perform ancestral dances as a tribute to unity in diversity.
Here is an invitation video for the series of conferences in the Philippines.
At a gathering in Malaysia, a collaborative art piece was created using a tree as a symbol of diversity and the abundance of spiritual qualities that God has given humanity.
A conference in Vallecito, Honduras, which was held in an indigenous Pech community, featured traditional Honduran dancing.
Children at this conference in Croatia created various pieces of art on the theme of the betterment of society.
Seen here are the lyrics of a song produced by Bahá’ís in Colombia about building vibrant communities.
An excerpt from the song reads:
With time there appears,
an emerging culture,
that lets my people,
to improve their condition
We are going to raise,
To reach this objective,
and a great deal of cooperation
A group of youth in Australia produced a short film which they presented at a conference in Gold Coast. The film explores some of the challenges faced by young people and how they can work together to overcome their challenges through strong bonds of friendship.
Children at a conference in Colima, Mexico created this colorful tree.
One participant said: “Each ball of paper symbolizes a person, a group, a neighborhood, a spiritual quality, or some element of nature. Together, they form a tree that gives life and shelter. The tree symbolizes a fortress, in which all can live in harmony and unity.”
Here are two songs from a conference in Armenia, inspired by Bahá’í educational materials:
In the first piece, the lyrics read, in part:
Look with your eyes at your gentle sky
And it will light up for you
Cold winters will pass
And spring will come back again
Or will spring come back to you again
New blessings and life will give you
Give everyone love joy
Serve people so that your soul shines
And the blessings will come unceasingly
Always look forward to tomorrow with hope
Pictured here at a conference in Rochester, United States, are two artistic pieces using various strands of yarn to symbolize unity in diversity.
Some youth at a conference in Peñalolén, Chile, perform a song about service to humanity.
In a conference in Melbourne, Australia, participants envisioned newspaper articles from a future in which society would largely be shaped by lofty ideals.
At this conference in Belgium, a group of participants integrated artistic activities into their discussions by collectively contributing to a single art piece as they consulted on the topic of education.
This video made in Canada invites people to participate in conferences that will be held in that country.
Seen here are participants at a conference in Bolivia singing songs inspired by Bahá’í teachings and community building activities.
Youth in the Canary Islands sing about community-building activities, which took place over the past decade.
At a conference in Macedonia, a globe was on display symbolizing diversity, unity, and the oneness of humanity. Behind it, a shadow presentation of religious symbols emphasized the oneness of religion.
A group of women at a conference in Chad sing a song in French that is inspired by teachings of the Bahá’í Faith about peace.
Seen here are bookmarks created by participants at a conference in Puerto Tejada, Colombia.
One of the bookmarks features the following quote from the Bahá’í Writings:
“The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.”
Musicians in Fiji perform a song at a conference inspired by a recent message from the Universal House of Justice about hope and the collective journey of fostering a peaceful world.
This song titled “Knowledge is the Light of the Future” was made in Egypt and focuses on the importance of educating all children.
Here are two songs from the Democratic Republic of the Congo performed in the Tshiluba language at a recent local conference. One addresses the importance of service to one’s community, the other references the need to build a more peaceful and equitable society.
At a conference in Honduras, participants contributed to making artistic pieces symbolizing collective action toward fostering peaceful communities.
In one of the activities, children decorated a tree with leaves representing spiritual qualities such as kindness, gratitude, respect, truthfulness, justice, and love. The piece included the following quote from the Bahá’í writings: “Ye are all the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.”
At a gathering in Jordan, youth were invited to produce pieces of work related to the theme “Your Vision for your Community”.
Two musicians at this conference in Govi-Altai, Mongolia, play the morin khuur, a traditional Mongolian instrument.
Youth musicians in Malaysia produced this video and song in Malay for the series of conferences in their country.
The lyrics include:
They are conscious, clear sighted, Ever-ready to grow Toleration, cooperation Transforming the world we know
They are the flames, are the flames that burn so bright They are the roots reaching far and wide A rising spirit, soaring high They are enkindled souls
Though they’re different, they stay united Ever-ready to serve Consultation, collaboration Transforming the world with love
Seen here are flyers designed for the series of conferences in New Zealand. The design of two hearts coming together in unity is a reference to the koru–a symbol in Māori art.
Among the artistic expressions at this gathering in Portugal is a heart-shaped piece welcoming participants with the words “whoever makes a friend finds an endless treasure.”
An animated video was produced in Slovakia welcoming all people to attend a conference in the city of Bratislava.
At a gathering in South Africa, youth and adults created collaborative multicolored paintings symbolizing unity diversity.
In Mexico, an invitation video was prepared which shows the challenges facing humanity juxtaposed against images showing service to society.
Seen here are three variations of the material provided to participants at a conference in Malaysia, each in a different language and beautified with a floral drawing.
Seen here is an invitation video welcoming people to a conference in Potsdam, Germany.
Pictured here is artwork on materials produced for the series of conferences in Sri Lanka.
At this conference in Khujand, Tajikistan, traditional dance and theatrical presentations contributed to the joyful atmosphere of the gathering.
Seen here is an invitation welcoming people to attend a conference in Tanzania.
It features the following quote from Bahá’u’lláh’s writings: “...the purpose for which mortal men have, from utter nothingness, stepped into the realm of being, is that they may work for the betterment of the world and live together in concord and harmony.”
Seen here is a video invitation for a conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A group of women at a conference in Colombia perform a traditional dance known as cumbia.
Seen here are invitation cards produced for the series of conferences in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
In Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, youth attending a conference wrote and recited a poem titled, ‘My House, a Shelter for Humanity’. The poem likens the work needed to construct a house to the work needed to build more peaceful and inviting communities. The piece emphasizes collaboration, noting that this work cannot be done alone.
In Pakistan, conferences included artistic banners in traditional tessellation form.
A video, titled “Our Unfolding Destiny”, is being screened at conferences in the United Kingdom. The video is about the journey of the Bahá’í community of that country over the past century in contributing to the betterment of society.
Participants at a conference in Gwalior, India, are seen in this video producing art pieces created during a recent gathering.
In response to the question “What would you like to see in your neighborhood?”, participants at a gathering in the United Arab Emirates created collective artistic pieces on themes such as Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for a peaceful world and service to humanity.
To listen to all the songs in this article, visit here.