Montreal, April 21, 2017 – The Bahá’í Community has celebrated the first of the twelve days of Ridván Festival at the Bahá’í Centre with music and various performances by the artists of the Community. Many friends of the Faith joined in this celebration with joy and happiness.
This is the day when Bahá'u'lláh left for Constantinople from Baghdád. He decided to move to the Najib Pasha garden across the Tigris river and entered the garden on April 22, 1863 accompanied by his sons `Abdu'l-Bahá, and some others, and stayed there for eleven days.
After his arrival in the garden, Bahá'u'lláh announced his mission and station for the first time to a small group of family and friends. The exact nature and details of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration are unknown. For the next eleven days Bahá'u'lláh received visitors including the governor of Baghdad. Bahá'u'lláh's family was not able to join Him until April 30, the ninth day, since the river had risen and made travel to the garden difficult. On the twelfth day of their stay, Bahá'u'lláh and his family left the garden and started on their journey to Constantinople.
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, written during 1873, Bahá'u'lláh ordains Ridván as one of two "Most Great Festivals", along with the Declaration of the Báb. He then specified the first, ninth, and twelfth days to be holy days; these days mark the days of Bahá'u'lláh's arrival, the arrival of his family and their departure from the Ridván garden, respectively.
The Festival of Ridván is observed according to the Bahá'í calendar, and begins on the thirty-second day of the Bahá'í year, which falls on April 20 or 21. The festival properly starts at two hours before sunset on that day, which symbolises the time that Bahá'u'lláh entered the garden. On the first, ninth, and twelfth days, which are Bahá'í Holy Days, work is prohibited. Currently, the three holy days are usually observed with a community gathering where prayers are shared, followed with a celebration.
The time that Bahá'u'lláh spent at the Garden of Ridván in April 1863, and the associated festival and celebration, has a very large significance for Bahá'ís. Bahá'u'lláh calls it one of two "Most Great Festivals" and describes the first day as "the Day of supreme felicity" and he then describes the "Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of his Name, the All-Merciful".
The festival is significant because of Bahá'u'lláh's private declaration to a few followers that he was "Him Whom God shall make manifest" and a Manifestation of God, and thus it forms the beginning point of the Bahá'í Faith, as distinct from the Babi religion. Furthermore, during Bahá'u'lláh's first day in the garden, he made three further announcements: abrogating religious war, which was permitted under certain conditions in Islam and the Bábí faith; that there would not be another Manifestation of God for another 1,000 years; and that all the names of God were fully manifest in all things. These three principles are "affirmed, expounded, and institutionalized" in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Aqdas, which was completed in 1873.
The Ridván period is also the time when Bahá'í annual elections for the local and national Spiritual Assemblies take place every year throughout the world.

MONTREAL— On April 15, playwright, actress and filmmaker Shabnam Tolouei’s new documentary film, Dust-Flower-Flame, was screened at Concordia University in the J.A. DeSève Cinema at 7:30 pm. Over 160 patrons from all walks of life in Montreal; university professors, Film and theatre writers and directors, artists in various disciplines, women groups, students and eminent psychologists were in attendance. Questions and discussions went on for more than one hour and people had trouble to get separated from the author!
Dust-Flower-Flame is a documentary film about the life of Tahirih Qurratu l-ʿAyn, a woman of letters, the effect of whose presence on women’s equality movement in the 19th century during the reign of Qajar has continued up until today.  After the Islamic Revolution, it is forbidden to write or talk about Tahirih.  Even her name, or pages and chapters about her life, have been obliterated in later editions of historical or literary books published in Iran.  Tahirih was ultimately choked to death secretly at night by the order of two high-ranking Muslim clergy and the approval of Nasiru’l-din Shah.
Shabnam Tolouei, is an actress, writer, and director, a graduate in Film Directing from the Bagh-e-Ferdous Film School in Tehran, and in Theatre Studies from Université Paris Ouest in Nanterre. Having received numerous awards for her acting, directing, and writing, and after ten years of continuous work in Visual and Performing Arts, she was deprived of all kind of activities in the field of art in Iran because of her religious beliefs.  She has been living in France since the end of 2004. This film is written and directed by her in collaboration with Executive Producer Ladan Doorandish and produced by Persian Media Production.
The screening was followed by an animated and enthusiastic period of questions and discussion with the director of the film and was moderated by Dr. Neda Faregh, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Carleton University, and project founder of Virtual Psychology in Chad. Mention should be made that Ms. Tolouei’s son, Sepanta, who also played in the film, was present during the projection and posed with his Mom for the photograph displayed in this article. This is the second time that he appeared during a public presentation in North America with his Mom.
Ms. Tolouei was interviewed by a Persian News channel following the projection and attended a theatre workshop on Sunday before leaving Montreal. She mentioned that a French version of this documentary is being prepared and will be available before the end of the year.
This was one of the outstanding public presentations within past few years in Montreal thanks to a group of well organized volunteers who helped the event to be a great success.

Montreal, September 21, 2016 - Founded in 2001 at the initiative of the United Nations, the International Day of Peace is dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace both within nations and among peoples.

This event was organized in collaboration with the Borough of Saint-Laurent and the Immigrant Committee, COSSL (Social Organizations Committee of St. Laurent Borough).

As stated by the Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa, "we are lucky, in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada, to live in a peaceful world. But together, children and adults, we also have the responsibility for maintaining this peace around us: in our families, at school, at work and in the community. "

At this occasion, also were present, the Borough Councillor for Norman-McLaren District, accompanied with the Senior Assistant to the Borough Office of the Honourable Stéphane Dion, MP for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville and Canada Minister of Foreign Affairs, political advisor to the MP for Saint-Laurent, Jean-Marc Fournier, Minister responsible for Canadian Affairs and the Canadian Francophonie and Government House leader, the director of the Office of Community Affairs of the the Bahá'í Community of Greater Montreal, representatives of social organizations and educational institutions of St. Laurent, as well as students from Parkdale School who performed a song of peace at the end of the ceremony.

MONTREAL, March 18, 2017 - The Verdunoise, Violet Grant States is among the 20 exceptional women proclaimed "Builders of the City" by the City of Montreal this year.
Every year, since 2011, Montrealers are honoured "in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the development of the city," reminded the mayor and the executive committee, adding that, on the occasion of Montreal's 375th anniversary, the City wished to pay tribute to 20 women Montrealers from all the boroughs and to a great Montrealer from the Aboriginal Peoples by creating the "Prix Origine".
For the Verdun Borough, Ms. Violet Grant States was honoured as the "first black woman to be accepted in a major orchestra in Canada," having worked in the community and in the school environment as a music teacher.
In 1940 she attended the first performance of the Montreal Women’s Symphony and decided to become its member. She was told that the orchestra needed a wind instrument so Violet switched her major from Piano to clarinet at the Conservatoire! She was auditioned and won a position in the 80 member all women orchestra. She remained a member of the orchestra until 1965. She was the only black woman who played at Carnegie Hall, N.Y. with this symphony. She managed to complete her musical studies at McGill while giving private lessons for over 28 years. She was assigned with a thousand music students per week in various schools, colleges and kindergartens. She served as Organist and Choir Director at Union United Church for 15 years.
Violet was enrolled in the Faith on 8 January 1961 in Verdun and served as a member of Verdun Spiritual Assembly since that time, serving for many years as it’s secretary. She is the first woman believer in her race in Montreal.
For her lifetime involvement as a community activist, Violet was named ‘Grande Verdunoise’ and Honorary Citizen of Verdun. She was equally involved in projects such of honouring early Black railroad workers and the official recognition of a slave cemetery in St-Armand, Quebec. She also set up banking funds with Caisse Populaire Desjardins for all the students of Verdun Elementary School, which she has helped to manage for over 20 years, effectively teaching children to care for their money.

Montreal, August 14, 2016 – Some 1500 participants celebrated the 40th annual conference of the Association for Bahá’í Studies this year at the Sheraton Centre. The annual conference has developed as one way in which the Association brings together a growing number of contributors to explore the implications of the Bahá’í teachings for a variety of disciplines, professions and fields of inquiry. The common purpose is to develop our capacity to examine the ideas, concepts, and theories operating within the scholarly and professional disciplines, and to contribute to the development of a growing body of knowledge associated with Bahá’í thought.

With this purpose in mind, the conference was served as a venue in which fresh approaches could be taken to generate and apply knowledge related to various disciplines and fields of study. Participants were invited to consider how they can play a role in working with others “to earnestly strive to reflect on the implications that the truths found in the Revelation may hold for their work.”

Plenary sessions helped to raise our vision and frame our thinking, and breakout sessions created spaces where specialized presentations and discussion proceeded. Across these different settings participants discovered new ideas and begun to explore collaborative enterprises that will extend new lines of inquiry. The hope is that the format and spirit of the conference were conducive to participation so that all could see themselves as actively engaged in a vibrant, inclusive and uplifting process of learning.

in 1975, the Association for Bahá’í Studies has served to foster the intellectual life of its members and of the Bahá’í community. The “power of intellectual investigation” is praised by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as “an eternal gift producing fruits of unending delight.” He says, “It is the very foundation of all individual and national development.” The Bahá’í teachings convey a vision of the future that calls for “profound change not only at the level of the individual but also in the structure of society.” This concerted effort to transform society is intimately related to advances in thought: “Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be developed.”


The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912 (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982).

The Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2010.  

The Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2010.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 24 July 2013.

Montréal, November 21, 2016 - Faithful to a reputation built over almost four decades, the Montreal Book Fair once again gave life and energy to Place Bonaventure!

This year, the Bahá’í Publishing offered a theme to encourage young visitors to take action for the well-being of their communities: "Unity in Diversity". Throughout the exhibition, from 16 to 21 November, dozens of young readers left a message on how they could contribute to betterment of a society as multicultural as ours. Eight large multi-colored posters including the Bahá’í principles adorned the wall of our booth, designed with great beauty.

A large number of messages from these young visitors, who for the most part visited the Book Fair with their schools, demonstrated a great awareness of environmental protection issues such as recycling and pollution control. Dozens of them also stressed the importance of respect and good behavior in general.

During these exciting six days of the 39th Montreal Book Fair, a real book festival, more than 2,000 authors, more than 1,000 publishers and 115,000 readers of all ages have been received! Our team of volunteers happily welcomed more than 2,000 visitors at our booth at this major cultural event in Montreal.

At the conclusion of these six days of celebration, we are highly encouraged to suggest that the Montreal Book Fair remains an essential showcase for the book as well as a place for discussion and listening. Overjoyed with the success of this 39th year, we warmly thank all the friends who dedicated their time to be present at our booth as volunteers and would like to invite everyone to come and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the event and the 375th of Montreal from November 15 to 20, 2017!

Montréal, July 7, 2016 - This Saturday, July 9, is a holiday and a holy day for the whole of the Bahá’í Community of Montreal and their co-religionists around the world. 

To the extent possible, every believer is invited to cease work on this day, in honour of the commemoration of the martyrdom of the Báb, Herald and Forerunner of the Bahá'í Faith, which took place in Persia on July 9, 1850, at noon. 

A commemoration will take place at the Ferme Bord-du-Lac - 1530, chemin du Bord-du-Lac - île-Bizard, Quebec, prayers, meditation, music and songs, followed by a historical presentation and prayers marking the martyrdom of the Báb will start at 11 a.m. 

This commemoration is open to all whether Bahá'í or not. 

Each Bahá'í community celebrates this commemoration around noon, when it is possible, organizing gatherings either in private homes or in Bahá'í Centres. Programwill include Prayers, Holy Writings, music and very often story telling of the life of the Báb and his last earthly moments.

Here is a brief story of the life of the Báb:

Siyyíd ‘Ali-Muhammad was born in October 20, 1819, in Shiráz in Iran, possessed from childhood surprising wisdom and sensitivity. During His adult years, he joined his uncle in the family business. Its integrity and piety earned him the esteem of other merchants with whom it came in contact. The poor knew Him for his generosity.

On May 23, 1844, Siyyíd ‘Ali-Muhammad, announced His mission in his hometown in presence of one of the believers who was searching after the Promised one of Islam. He then took the title of « the Báb », Word which means in Arabic, "Gate".

The Bábi Faith spread very rapidly in the country, which led instantly Government and the clergy of Persia to join together to commit cruel misdeeds towards the early believers of the Báb. Historians estimate, the number of victims of these persecutions to about 20,000.

Under pressure from the clergy, the Government finally gave order to imprison the Báb in the military barracks of Tabriz in Persia, convinced that this action will stop the expansion of the young Faith.

On July 9, 1850, at noon, about 10,000 people were massed on the roofs of buildings and houses around the courtyard of the barracks. Two ropes suspended the Báb and one of His young followers against a wall. A regiment of 750 Christian Armeniansoldiers, ready in three rows of 250 men each, opened fire on three successive times. The smoke from gunpowder and shooting was so dense, reported by the Westerneyewitnesses present, that the sky became black and the courtyard was plunged into the darkness.

As evidenced by the archives of the Department of the British Foreign Affairs,when smoke was dissipated, the Báb had disappeared. His companion standing there unharmed and spared by the bullets. The ropes to which they had both been attached were more than shreds.

The Báb was found in His cell, giving instructions to one of His secretaries. At the break of day, when the guards came to pick Him up for execution, He told them that "Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say, can any earthly power silence Me. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall they be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention."

When the guards came to pick Him up for the second time, He calmly announced to them: "Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention."

For the second time, the Báb and his young companion were therefore brought before the firing squad. Armenian soldiers refusing to carry their action for a second time, the task was entrusted to a Muslim regiment. This time their bodies were shattered and were blended together.

"The most joyful tidings is this," 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote later in a Tablet announcing to His followers the news of this glorious victory, "that the holy, the luminous body of the Báb ... after having for sixty years been transferred from place to place, by reason of the ascendancy of the enemy, and from fear of the malevolent, and having known neither rest nor tranquility has, through the mercy of the Abhá Beauty, been ceremoniously deposited, on the day of Naw-Ruz, within the sacred casket, in the exalted Shrine on Mt. Carmel...” By a strange coincidence, on that same day of Naw-Ruz (1909), a cablegram was received from Chicago, announcing that the believers in each of the American centers had elected a delegate and sent to that city … and definitely decided on the site and construction of the Temple there.

Montreal, Quebec, November 1, 2016 — The celebrations of the twin birthdays of the Herald as well as the Founder of the Faith were held at the Montreal Bahá'í Centre attended by friends from many neighbourhoods.

The Festivals of the Twin Birthdays, the Birth of the Báb and the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, as explained in a letter dated July 10, 2014 from the Universal House of Justice, have, in the East, been traditionally observed according to their correspondence to the first and second days of Muḥarram in the Islamic calendar.

“These two days are accounted as one in the sight of God”, affirms Bahá’u’lláh, nevertheless, the corresponding dates in Gregorian calendar do not follow the same pattern. Therefore, the Universal House of Justice, in conformity with their responsibilities, has decided that the two days will now be observed on the first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Rúz, as determined in advance by astronomical tables using Ṭihrán as the point of reference. This will result in the observance of the Twin Birthdays moving, year to year, within the months of Mashíyyat, ‘Ilm, and Qudrat of the Badí‘ (Bahá’í) calendar, or from mid-October to mid-November according to the Gregorian calendar.

"All Feasts have attained their consummation in the two Most Great Festivals, and in the two other Festivals that fall on the twin days." -- Bahá'u'lláh

The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh were born 197 and 199 years ago respectively, and their lives are remarkable in the field of religious history. During the six year period from the declaration of His religious mission until His execution by the Persian government in 1850, the Báb is estimated to have written religious texts totalling some half million verses, while during His religious ministry Baha'u'llah wrote texts totalling some 100 volumes. Even in their original Arabic and Persian, only a small portion of these texts have yet been published, with an even smaller fraction translated into English. These Writings embody the principles that the world needs at present time.

‘On the first day of Muharram 1309 [7 August 1891], the Blessed Perfection was celebrating the festival.

This is the day on which Hadrat-i-Mubashshir [the Herald] set foot in this world and illumined it with His light. There is every reason for rejoicing….

The next day, the second day of Muharram, was the day of the birth of the Master of Days and of the World of Being [Baha’u’llah]. In the morning, all of the pilgrims and residents were summoned to His blessed Presence. He spoke about the sublimity of His advent, the power of the Most Exalted Pen, the circumstances of His exile, and the arrival at the Most Great Prison. Then He spoke extensively about the aggression and transgressions on the part of the tyrants and divines. He said,

“Nasiri’d-Din Shah and ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz both transgressed against Us and harmed the body of the Cause of God, but the tyranny of ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz was by far the more severe, because he banished, without any reason, the Wronged One of the worlds to the Most Great Prison. But, Nasiri’d-Din Shah, because of the ill-advised action of the believers in the early days of the Cause, whenever he stroked his limbs and felt the pellets under his skin, would be roused in anger to commit these harsh deeds and adopt tyrannical measures against the believers, spilling the blood of innocent people. Notwithstanding all these injuries inflicted upon them by the Shah and the Government, the friends do not cease to demonstrate their Faith openly and do not observe caution. You cannot blame them, because two great festivals have been joined into one, auguring a brilliant future.

Then thee Blessed Perfection spoke these two lines [which are by Hafiz]:[41-3]

These times more bitter than venom shall pass away,

And once again, times as sweet as sugar shall come this way.

He then gave us sweetmeats and we left His presence. *


*From Baha’u’llah, King of Glory by H.M. Balyuzi page 412

Montreal, Quebec, 22 May 2016  — On May 22nd, Bahá’í communities in Canada and around the world celebrate a holy day commemorating the very beginning of the Bahá’í Faith, a day known to Bahá’ís as the Declaration of the Báb.
The Bahá’í Faith began with the mission of two divine messengers, the Báb (the Gate - October 20, 1819 – July 9, 1850) and Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God - November 12, 1817 - May 29, 1892). The Báb was the Herald who prepared the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.
The Bahá’í era dates from May 22, 1844 when, in the Iranian City of Shiraz, the Báb declared Hismission. On that occasion He spoke these words to Mullá Husayn, the first person to recognize that mission: "Verily I say, I am the Báb, the Gate of God.... This night, this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals."
We can better understand the meaning of this Bahá’í holy day, characterized as this ‘greatest and most significant of all festivals’ if we reflect on how, since that period, the world has utterly changed. Bahá’ís believe that the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh released a creative energy that is transforming everything about human life.
The Báb wrote, “I am a letter out of that most mighty book and a dewdrop from that limitless ocean, and, when He shall appear, My true nature, My mysteries, riddles, and intimations will become evident, and the embryo of this religion shall develop through the grades of its being and ascent, attain to the station of 'the most comely of forms,' and become adorned with the robe of 'blessed be God, the Best of Creators.'”
Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. This new life is apparent in such things as the explosion of human knowledge, in steps that reflect a growing consciousness of the oneness of the human family, the establishment of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, world-wide undertakings to improve agriculture and hygiene, and medical care, efforts to elevate international standards and laws, and a recognition of the need to advance the status of women and girls.’’
Beginnings are always special – a wedding, the birth of a baby, the appearance of some wonderful new invention or process. How much more special, then, is the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb, which was the moment of birth for a new Faith community. Now a community of approximately 5 million established throughout the world, Bahá’ís work hand in hand with other communities, well-wishers, partners and collaborators to fulfill the promises of the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh that will see humanity living together in peace and prosperity.

Montreal, October 15, 2016 - A number of Bahá’ís from the Montreal community attended the inauguration of the 9th temple dedicated to humanity in Santiago, Chili. The Bahá’í House of Worship was built by a firm of Toronto architects and hundreds of other collaborators around the world for about 14 years.

Siamak Hariri of Hariri-Pontarini Architects company, explained that his team was fully aware of the power that a building may have to influence the soul but evoke such a feeling was a profound challenge.

More than 5,000 Bahá’ís from 110 countries attended the Dedication Ceremonies, along with 500 guests representatives of government, civil society and religious communities in South America, Central America, North America, Caribbean and other remote regions, met this weekend under the slender dome of the house of worship.

Canadian architectural writer, Lisa Rochon, has described the Temple as “a luminous structure that echoes the rolling topography of the Andes while appearing to float some 30 metres above the earth… visitors will experience a mesmerizing transfer of light from the exterior of cast glass to an interior of translucent Portuguese marble.  At sunset, the light captured within the dome shifts from gold to ochre to deep red.”  The Temple lies in the foothills of the Andes as they rise to the south-east of  Santiago in the municipality of Peñalolen.

Four of the eight Baha’i Temples around the world have been designed by Canadian architects.  The first, located just north of Chicago, was designed in the early 20th century by Quebec architect Louis Bourgeois, and was opened as the North American Baha’i Temple in the early 1950s, since becoming a landmark.  In subsequent years, Canadian Fariborz Sahba designed the Asian Baha’i Temple in New Delhi, often referred to as the “Lotus Temple”, and among the most visited buildings in the world.  Vancouver architect Hossein Amanat designed the Baha’i Temple of Oceania in Apia, Samoa.  The four other continental Temples are in Europe (Frankfurt, Germany), Africa (Kampala, Uganda), Panama, and Australia (Sydney).

The guests, many of whom were dressed in traditional dress, climbed the mountainside stairs to the first devotional program held in the house of worship. Representing the Universal House of Justice, Mrs. Antonella Demonte read a special message addressed to the gathering at “a moment of high achievement for the Bahá’í world after much earnest striving”. “The process of raising up Bahá’í Houses of Worship, an endeavour whose origins can be traced back to the days of the Blessed Beauty Himself, has reached the point where today a Mother Temple stands upon the soil of every continent,” read the message. “A powerful spiritual beacon is now in full blaze at the foot of the Andes,” the message said, describing the House of Worship as a vital institution which embodies “two essential and inseparable aspects of Baha’i life: worship and service.”

Among the first Baha’is to set foot on the continent to share their beliefs were three brave North-American women—Martha Root, Leonora Armstrong and May Maxwell. Their heroic efforts in the early decades of the twentieth century were vividly brought to life by three actors in a dramatic presentation, titled Las Rosas Blancas de America.

The unifying power of humanity in all its diverse cultures and diverse colors - and the unique position of this temple, between the city and the mountains - was clear for all to see.

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