Bicentenary celebrated in Halifax!

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!

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Celebrating the Bicentenary in our local community

In just over a week, Bahá’ís around the world will celebrate the Bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith. The Bicentenary celebrations will be held on the 21st and 22nd of October. Gatherings celebrating the life, and exploring the teachings, of Bahá’u’lláh will be held in localities everywhere. People from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs, will be participating in these celebrations that represent an historic moment for Bahá’ís all over the world.

For me it is a particularly exciting time. My local Bahá’í community – Calderdale – is holding a celebration in the Halifax Town Hall on the 21st of October. The event will join together not only the local Bahá’ís, their families, friends and local government representatives but also a wider community of interested people who are already participating in some of the activities that we hold locally.

Photo: Vera from the Calderdale community, looking forward to the upcoming Bicentenary celebration in Halifax!

One of these activities, a children’s class that is held in Halifax every Saturday, is particularly dear to me. As a Bahá’í and a mother of two young children myself, this is a precious opportunity both for the children and for my own spiritual development. The class focuses on spiritual qualities, such as truthfulness, generosity and kindness, and is open to all. The children and some parents, who also participate in the class, are from a variety of backgrounds. When they attend they will undoubtedly enrich the Bicentenary celebrations in Halifax later this month!

I really feel the unifying spirit of the upcoming Halifax event, and it makes me think very much about one of my favourite sacred writings from the Bahá’í Faith, which I have copied below:

“The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife.”

-Bahá’u’lláh

Two new web resources available as the Bicentenary approaches

Two newly prepared websites have just been released as part of the build-up to the worldwide celebrations of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh next month. Firstly, there is now a special section on the UK Bahá’í website (click on the photo below to visit) about the Bicentenary:

Photo: Artwork from the new section of the UK Bahá’í website (click the picture above to be taken there).

Second, a beautiful dedicated global site for the Bicentenary has also just been made available (click on the picture below to visit):

Photo: Screenshot of the new world website describing some of what is happening worldwide as  Bahá’ís celebrate the Bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth (click picture to visit).

We have also now added these links to our own page about the Bicentenary here on our Calderdale site. Exciting times!