Members of the Newcastle and Hunter Bahá'í community are celebrating a milestone moment in the history of their religion. This month represents the 200th anniversary of the birth of the founder of their faith, a prophetic figure known as Baha’u’llah (“The Glory of God”).
While he was born in Tehran, Persia (now Iran) on November 12, 1817, the bicentenary of his birth was officially celebrated according to the Bahá'í holy calendar on October 21-22 this year, with activities held throughout Australia and around the world.
Around 250 people including dignitaries from across the Hunter gathered at Dixon Park Surf Club on October 20 for the region’s main public celebration of the event, which included dinner, a presentation about Baha'u'llah and multicultural entertainment.
Mez Mumtahan from the Hunter Bahá’í Community said a number of other celebrations were also held at local and neighbourhood levels.
The Bahá’í Faith is a modern, independent, monotheistic religion, with more than five million followers around the world. It is based on the idea that humanity is one family; a single people inhabiting the planet Earth, bound together in a common destiny under one God. Baha’is believe that the world’s major religions represent unfolding chapters in God’s teachings for humankind and that the writings of Baha’u’llah represent God’s guidance for this age.
Baha’u’llah said a united world would produce the peace and prosperity foretold in the holy books of the great religions of the world and in the poems and songs of sages down the ages.
Distinctive Bahá'í Houses of Worship have been established around the world, offering a place where visitors can simply pray and meditate in a serene atmosphere, or listen to the holy scriptures of the world’s religions being recited and sung.
In his teachings, Baha’u’llah outlined the steps necessary to achieve an ordered progression into a just and peaceful world, which included an inner transformation of people as well as a revitalisation of society based on principles of justice and respect for all people as equal members of one human family.
“It was an inspiring prediction of the eventual endpoint of the globalisation process the world is now witnessing with all its disorder, retreats and advances,” Mez said.
“His Faith, now established worldwide, teaches the equality of women and men, the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty, the harmony of science and religion, and the establishment of an equal standard of human rights for all people.”
The Bahá'í Faith was introduced in Australia in 1920 by Englishman John Henry Hyde Dunn and his wife Clara Dunn, who had been raised in Canada by Irish parents. Both had become Baha’is in the United States in the early 20th century before moving to Sydney.
Today there are around 20,000 followers of the faith in Australia, spread across more than 400 communities, who seek to implement the vision of Baha’u’llah by establishing venues for collective devotions, creating study circles to examine writings of spiritual significance, and conducting spiritual education programs.
For the past two years, a group of volunteers from the local Bahá’í community have been hosting monthly “Soul Food” events in Booragul. Held at Lake Macquarie Art Gallery on the second Sunday of each month, the event was established to provide a place where people of all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds could gather together to reflect on and celebrate their diversity.
Featuring live music, audio-visual pieces and readings from faiths and philosophers, authors, leaders and indigenous cultures from all over the world, Soul Food is designed to remind people of the common threads that tie all of humanity together.
The free event is open to all members of the community, with each month’s program set on a specific theme. The next Soul Food will be held on Sunday, November 12 and will explore the precious nature of time, how quickly it passes and how profound it can be when we make the most of it as part of the theme “A Sense of Time”.
For more information visit www.soulfood.com.au/ lakemacquarie or to find out more about the Bahá'í Faith in the Hunter phone 4049 6302 or contact your local community via the following emails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or (Maitland) email@example.com
Pictured top: Bahá'í Temple in Chicago, USA