On Saturday evening, 21st October 2017, over 90 guests, including the Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Mrs Virginia Lloyd, local dignitaries, members of the Calderdale Interfaith Council, friends from around the world, neighbours, colleagues and members of the public joined our Bahá’í community of Calderdale inside Halifax Town Hall to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith.
Photo: View from Halifax Town Hall balcony to the Bicentenary celebration, hosted by the Baha’is of Calderdale, UK.
Whilst we were celebrating together in Halifax, in tens of thousands of localities around the world, from tiny island nations in the Pacific to the vast lands of the Americas, Bahá’ís and their friends were also marking this unique occasion in their own communities, in their own distinctive ways. (There is a great archived collection of such celebrations at the global Bicentenary website here; these various festivities reflected the remarkably diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds of Bahá’ís and their communities all around the planet!)
In Halifax, our evening’s programme included a presentation on the life and mission of Bahá’u’lláh and His vision for humanity, including His teaching that: “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” The presentation was interspersed with classical music, song and prayers, and was followed by friendly discussions and refreshments. The presentation recapped that Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 in Tehran, the capital city of Persia (modern day Iran), and that He devoted Himself to uplifting and educating all the peoples of the world. From a young age He was renowned for His extraordinary wisdom, compassion and commitment to justice. However because of His teachings, He was imprisoned, tortured and exiled until He reached the prison city of ‘Akká (modern day Acre) in the Holy Land (modern day Israel).
Despite 40 years of suffering He continued to share His message and called upon the kings and rulers of the world to establish peace and resolve all injustices in their lands. During our Halifax event we highlighted that in fact Bahá’u’lláh also wrote to Queen Victoria, setting out principles for just rule, and commending her for her support for democracy and for banishing slavery.
(Separately, another link to the UK was that British Prime Minister Theresa May was one of many political leaders around the world who addressed their own letters of encouragement to the Baha’i communities in their countries. Theresa May, referring to Bahá’u’lláh, wrote, “His life, his teachings and His compassion continue to inspire people around the world, and we can all learn from His generosity and wisdom.”)
Since the event a number of people have also let us know that they were unable to attend due to the heavy rain and winds, which caused flooding and disruption in parts of Calderdale. We are very excited that we are hoping to run an informal repeat of the programme from the evening; we will be letting people know as soon as all the details are finalised!
For the time being though, we wanted to take this opportunity warmly to thank everyone who joined us to be together for this very special evening, and who helped make it a truly wonderful occasion!