A once-in-a-lifetime experience
Bahá’ís last year observed the 100th anniversary of the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who is the son of their founder, Bahá’u’lláh.
Two members of the local National Spiritual Assembly travelled to Haifa, Israel, to attend the centenary services. Read Currelly and Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo were selected to represent Bermuda for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The governing body of the Bahá’í Faith – the Universal House of Justice – communicated to each National Spiritual Assembly that two representatives, a male and female, should be selected to attend the centenary,” Mr Currelly explained.
“Shyama and I were selected at random and words really couldn’t explain what it meant to us. Excitement isn’t even a good word to describe it. It was an amazing experience.”
Over 1,300 people attended the centenary in Haifa, with representatives from Bahá’í national assemblies around the world.
'Abdu'l-Bahá was the appointed successor of his father and the interpreter of his writings. As such, he is a central figure in the Bahá’í Faith.
'Abdu'l-Bahá died on November 28, 1921 in his home in Haifa. He is buried at the Shrine of the Bab, a place of reverence for those of the Bahá’í Faith. Various centenary events were held around the world to commemorate this occasion.
Participants in the centenary in Haifa embarked on a mini pilgrimage of sorts, spending three days visiting holy places followed by three days of conferences.
Reflecting on the trip, Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo described it as an “immensely joyous, reverent, humbling and galvanising experience”.
Globally, there are about 7 million people who identify as Bahá’ís, which is a small number when compared to other world religions.
“Bahá’í communities are small in comparison to the general population. So, to be with so many other people of the same faith was a truly beautiful experience. I get goosebumps talking about it,” Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo said.
Aside from the deep sense of reverence and spiritual connection experienced at the centenary, both Mr Currelly and Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo found the feeling of unity to be the most moving part of their journey.
According to Mr Currelly it seemed as though cultural barriers disappeared as he connected with people from around the world.
“What really struck me when I was there was that we had representation from almost all 195 countries. And when we walked up to anyone at all, we were met with smiles. We struggled a little with language barriers but that quickly dissolved and we could talk to anyone on a love and friendship basis.
“It gave me a glimpse of what this world would be like in the future, when we do what Jesus asked us to do – to make earth like it is in heaven, to make this world a world of love and peace.”
World peace and unity is an important goal for Bahá’ís.
Members of the faith are called to live by a set of principles outlined by Bahá’u’lláh, that they believe will help to transform the world and bring universal peace. Some of these principles include: the oneness of the entire human race, the abolition of all forms of prejudice; the harmony which must exist between religion and science, the equality of men and women and the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty.
While these principles may seem lofty and unattainable to some, Bahá’ís do believe that through personal accountability and community action they can be achieved.
“One of the most moving things that I took from this trip to Israel is that we already have the blueprint. We have the same goal, to create a society that is better for all of us. It is society-building work. It’s not just about own personal salvation,” Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo said.
“Every faith, every manifestation of God has promised world peace. How fast we get there depends on humanity. Human agency is what changes the planet.”
On March 21 the National Spiritual Assembly of Bahá’ís in Bermuda will launch a podcast. Reimagining Bermuda: Answers for Today’s Problems will discuss some of the fundamental principles of the faith and ways individuals can work towards creating a better society for all.
The podcast will air on www.bermudabahai.org and Facebook.
“We are not trying to go out and make everyone a Bahá’í,” Mr Currelly emphasised. “But we would like to find all like-minded people of all walks of life and join together to make a community again. The goal is to walk a path of service together.”
To learn more about the Bahá’í Faith visit www.bermudabahai.org
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