Bahá’is celebrate 70 years in Halifax and observe 1st day of Ridvan
By a Staff Reporter
Halifax Bahá’is celebrated the first day of Ridvan and the 70th anniversary of the formation of the first local Spiritual Assembly in Halifax at the Saint Mary’s Boat Club on 21 April.
In his introduction to the ceremony, John Chesley, the compère also told the gathering that this year also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the visit to Canada by Abdul-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’llah, the founder of the Bahá’i faith.
His travels in 1912 launched the fledgling faith’s transformation to a world religion. “Since the first arrivals of Bahá’is in Canada in 1902, the community has grown to about 30,000 in about 1200 locations in Canada,” Chesley said.
The ceremony opened with a brief address by Deputy Mayor Bill Carsten who made a reference to the Golden Locust Tree presented by the HRM to the Bahá’is in 1967 and spoke of the community’s partnership with other groups to promote peace.
The holy day “Ridvan” means paradise and refers to the garden park of Najibiyyih situated on the outskirts of Baghdad, across the river from Bahá’u’llah’s house. A brief narrative of the birth of the Bahá’i faith was provided by Mike Bunin who recalled the proclamation of the great Messenger of God by the Báb (the forerunner to Baha’u’llah in 1844).During his six-year ministry, the Báb called the people of Persia to purify themselves in preparation of the arrival of “He whom God shall make manifest.”
But Bahá’u’llah, who was imprisoned by the Persian regime for his spiritual pronouncements, finally went into exile in Baghdad upon his release. Then before he was moved again to the garden-park of Najibiyyih, he spent 12 days in preparation for that journey during which time he made the declaration to family and friends that he was the Promised One spoken of by the Báb.
The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridvan are thus observed as Holy Days by the Báha’i community. Devotions and prayers were part of the ceremony and readers recited verses from Abdul Bahá and Bahá’u’llah.
Alva Robinson, one of the compères, also produced a report on the Bahá’is from Iran which spoke about the persecution of Bahá’is, the fact that they are not represented in Iran’s constitution, thousands have been arrested and scores of them executed without fair trials. She said several Bahá’is came to Halifax in 1979 in the throes of Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution.
The Bahá’is of Canada are, reportedly, lobbying the Canadian government and UN bodies to intervene in the arrest and torture of Bahá’is in Iran.
A reception followed the proceedings of the celebration and music was provided on the flute by Saeed Foroughi and on the African drum by Robert Leek.