World of Spirituality Unveiled

February 16, 2003

QUITO, Ecuador — Spanish photographer Francisco Gonzalez was waiting for the perfect moment when he could capture secrets revealed to him in just seconds. That moment came as the sun shone its soft rays over the Lotus Temple in New Delhi.

The resulting image (see Photographs) is one of the photographs in an exhibition currently on tour in Ecuador.

Called "Architects of Unity" (Arquitectos de Unidad), the exhibition features Baha'i Houses of Worship throughout the world.

Photographing such subjects is in contrast to covering national and international events for such major Spanish newspapers as El Pais, El Mundo and Tiempo. However, it has been a project Mr. Gonzalez has dreamed of for many years.

"For me photography is the best way to express and convey my feelings to people," said Mr. Gonzales, who lives in Cordoba.

He said it was his greatest aspiration to connect the hearts of people with the teachings of Baha'u'llah with the help of his camera.

A photographer of more than 20 years experience, Mr. Gonzalez, 42, said that on his visits to the temples, he met people coming from all kinds of ethnic and religious background.

Unity in diversity: Baha'i House of Worship, Langenhain, Germany.| From a photographic exhibition by Francisco Gonzalez, entitled "Architects of Unity". Slideshow
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Unity in diversity: Baha'i House of Worship, Langenhain, Germany.| From a photographic exhibition by Francisco Gonzalez, entitled "Architects of Unity".

"At the temple in the United States for example I met a lady who explained to me that although she did not believe in God, she had been visiting the temple for 30 years because she felt that in the silence of the moments she spent there she discovered some sort of indescribable harmony, something unique she had never experienced anywhere else in the world," he said.

Tarasieh Vahdat, the organizer of the tour and a member of Baha'i community of Quito, said the 70 photographs, which arrived in the country through the sponsorship of UNESCO and the Spanish embassy in Ecuador, had traveled to six other cities including Guayaquil and Otavalo, and had attracted more than 10,000 visitors.

"These remarkable pictures of Mr. Gonzalez not only introduce beautiful buildings to the viewer," said Ms. Vahdat.

"The Houses of Worship, as the Baha'i writings say, are the 'Dawning-places of the praise of God', a place where one may find perfect peace to freely commune with God," she said.

The Lotus temple in India is one of seven Baha'i Houses of Worship in the world. The others are in Australia, Germany, Panama, Uganda, the United States and Western Samoa.

Each building is distinct in its character reflecting the culture of the country where it was built. The Indian temple, for example, features the lotus flower, a potent symbol of spirituality in that country.

All the temples share the common feature of having nine entrances, thus symbolizing the great world religions, as well as the diversity of the human race and its essential oneness and unity.

While working on his project, Mr. Gonzalez was also inspired to photograph women who were involved with social-economic projects throughout the world.

His exhibition, "Women of the World: Landscape of the Soul" (Mujeres del Mundo: Paisajes del Alma) is currently traveling around Spain, visiting more than 20 cities and towns. For his latest project Mr. Gonzalez received an award from the Andalucia Institute for Women.