Celebrating with music and dance
LAS PALMAS, Spain — Classical Spanish dances and melodies entertained participants at the 50th jubilee celebrations in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
Songs originating from the Canary Islands were a highlight of the festivities held in the capital, Las Palmas, from 10-12 October 2003.
Guests from Austria, Senegal, Morocco, and Spain joined local Baha'is to watch a video documentary about the 50 years of Baha'i activity in the islands.
Another film, produced by local youth, depicted the significant role young people played in the history of the Baha'i community.
One of the speakers, Mahnaz Nekoudin, paid tribute to the Baha'is who had settled in the islands to support the work of the Baha'i community.
Many of those pioneering Baha'is were present at the jubilee, and received roses as a gesture of gratitude.
The Faith came to the Canary Islands in October 1953 when George and Peggy True, and their son, Barry, arrived from Detroit and settled in Tenerife.
For their services, Mr. and Mrs. True received the accolade Knights of Baha'u'llah from Shoghi Effendi.
At the jubilee, Barry True gave an address that included affectionate reminiscences of his parents.
Another Knight of Baha'u'llah to the Canary Islands was Gertrude Eisenberg, who settled on the island of Grand Canary.
Shoghi Riaz Rouhani, a Baha'i from Egypt, arrived on that island a few months later, in April 1954. He too was named a Knight of Baha'u'llah.
Mr. Rouhani, who was present at the jubilee, talked about the significance of the historic events 50 years ago.
Also contributing to the festivities were Emilio Egea and Sohrab Youssefian, members of the Continental Board of Counselors.
In conjunction with the jubilee, the Baha'is organized an interfaith panel discussion, which was held at the Writers' Guild of Las Palmas.
Present at that meeting were representatives of the Buddhist, Catholic, and Jewish communities, as well as the consuls for Ireland and Italy.
Ines Jimenez, member of the town council of Las Palmas, spoke at that gathering.
"The message that I learned is that humanity is one race, and that unity, peace, and dialogue of all cultures of the world will be a reality," Mrs. Jimenez said.
Also attending were Angel Tristan, editor and columnist of one of the regional newspapers, "La Provincia," who had written an article about the Baha'i Faith.
The jubilee was also covered by another local newspaper, the "Canarias 7," and there was a report by the local television station, Channel 8.
Celebrations took place in Mallorca (Majorca), Soller, and Calvia from 21 to 23 November 2003.
Many Baha'i and other artists, including the local Baha'i choir and the San Jaime Choir, performed at the events. Regional dances, and performances on violin and piano were also part of the entertainment.
The first Baha'i to take the Faith to the islands was Virginia Orbison of the United States, who arrived in August 1953.
Others soon to follow were Jean and Tove Deleuran from Denmark, and Charles Monroe Ioas of the United States, who was present at the jubilee.
They were among many other Baha'is at the same time who left their home countries at the urging of the then head of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, to take the teachings of Baha'u'llah around the world.
Those first four to arrive in the Balearic Islands received the title Knight of Baha'u'llah from Shoghi Effendi.
Several high-ranking officials were present at the celebrations, including the director of the Human Rights for Children's Office, a UNESCO representative, and senior members of the Education Council, who praised the Baha'i community's work for social welfare.
Also present were Emilio Egea, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors, and members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Spain.
Representatives of the Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim communities participated with the Baha'is in a panel discussion on religious dialogue, which was covered by the local media.