Bahá’ís celebrate the birth of Bahá’u’lláh every year, but 2017 holds special significance because the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith was born exactly 200 years ago. Toronto Bahá’ís and their friends have been exerting extra effort for many months to honour the birth of this 19th-century figure whose divine teachings of unity and justice have inspired millions around the globe.
Groups of friends in pockets across Toronto will be commemorating the birth of Bahá’u’lláh on the Holy Day itself, October 22nd, just a day after the anniversary of the birth of the Faith’s other founder, the Báb. They have also been holding countless conversations leading up to the day, speaking with neighbours and colleagues about the significance of Bahá’u’lláh as a divine Messenger of God and of His teachings for humanity.
Shomayseh, a young woman in the Bayview Village neighbourhood of Toronto says, “We recognized there are only 13 weeks before the first of the Bicentenary celebrations. We wanted to ensure that every single member shouldering or thinking about the spiritual and material progress of the community could be drawn into the conversation about how these Holy Days could be celebrated.”
Shomayseh and her friends have been offering classes for the spiritual upliftment of children and youth in her neighbourhood. So, the group decided to talk about the bicentenary with the families of the children and youth who were in the classes.
A conversation with one youth sticks out in her mind. “She mentioned the impact of the message of Bahá’u’lláh and how it brought people together with purpose,” Shomayseh recalls of her visit to the youth’s home. “She articulated her own understanding of how it had affected her relationships with members of the community.”
In addition to such conversations, the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh is being marked in various ways across Toronto, including with formal programs, prayer gatherings, acts of service, musical observances, and artistic expressions.
Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1817 and gave up a life of advantage to dedicate Himself to promoting divine teachings, such as the oneness of humankind, the abolishment of prejudice, and elimination of the extreme disparity between rich and poor.