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Montreal, May 7, 2023 – Bahá’u’lláh in one of His writings called the Glad-Tidings says: “Although a republican form of government profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God.”

The coronation of a new king opened new doors and brought new vistas in mankind’s vision! It seems it was another occasion to bring the Bahá’í Faith, however subliminal, to the attention of the people of the world!

A special attention was given that the religious and First Nation delegations be present at the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey headed by the representative of the Bahá’í Community of United Kingdom, a lady carrying an OBE (Order of British Empire) from the late Queen herself! The announcer from the BBC television made specific mention of the Bahá’í Faith during the procession of representatives of various religions. Once again, the name of the Faith has been heard in this majestic Abbey which was home to several interfaith gatherings headed by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh himself!

A dignified ceremony was held on Sunday at the occasion of the new king’s coronation at Montreal Christ Church attended by some 200 dignitaries, representatives of various Government Officials including representatives of various religions including the Bahá’í Community.

In his address, the Honourable J. Michel Doyon, Q.C., 29th Lieutenant Governor of Quebec wished for a new era of unity and commonwealth of the nations under the new monarch! Later in a conversation with a member of the Montreal Bahá’í Community, he elaborated further about the essential role of religions, specifically the Bahá’í Faith being a catalyst, to introduce the fundamental truth of all religions which is the unity of humankind! He also wished that humanity understands one day how religions have been the cause of unity of humanity rather the animosity and negative elements brought about by their followers! He expressed his good wishes for the Bahá’í Community!

During a conversation with the Very Rev’d Bertrand Olivier, Dean and Rector of the Christ Church, he mentioned that he wanted very much to attend the Commemoration of the Centenary of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Saint James’s Cathedral but he was on duty elsewhere! He is planning to organize a meeting to bring together the religious leaders of Montreal in a forum of unity and understanding!

Perhaps the most interesting conversation was with Dr. Nichols Capozzoli, director of music at the cathedral! He said he gathered the music for this celebration from the idea of nearness to God at sunrise and sunset, honouring the awakening of the world and placing it into God’s hands again when we go to rest. This idea was masterly performed by a fifty-voice choral composed of different nations and ethnic background including a baby from First Nations on the backpack of his mother!

It is to note that it was Herbert Symonds, vicar of Christ Church (1860-1921) who introduced ‘Abd’ul-Bahá to 1200 members of congregation present at Saint James’s United Church where he gave a talk on September 5, 1912.

Montreal, Saturday, April 29, 2023 - A magnificent 60-minute Concert by Marguerite Bilodeau transformed the souls of the participants on the 9th day of the Riḍván Festival. A talented and multidisciplinary artist who plays several instruments accompanied by her angelic voice in her old age perfectly represented the spirit of this event that has been celebrated around the world.

Marguerite Bilodeau, 87, is the mother of 5 children, has 10 grandchildren, and a great-grandson. She has been a nurse for over 25 years and now runs her own business called Marguerite & Soleil.

Marguerite is a producer, writer, painter and an accomplished musician. She has studied piano, guitar, recorder, cello, harpsichord, Celtic and Paraguayan harps. She has composed over 60 songs in French and English.

Peace, Justice and Joie de vivre are words that wrap around her like a glove. She is committed to educating people of all ages about the culture of peace.

The celebration of the 9th day of Riḍván was held at the Bahá'í Center of Montreal in the presence of about 30 people from all over the city. Similar celebrations were held in other neighborhoods as well.

About Bahá'u'lláh's twelve-day stay in the garden of Najibiyyih, Nabil, the chronicler of the time, writes:

The departure of Bahá'u'lláh from the Garden of Riḍván, at noon, on May 3, 1863, witnessed scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm no less spectacular, and even more touching, than those which greeted Him when leaving His Most Great House in Baghdad. "The great tumult," wrote an eyewitness, "associated in our minds with the Day of Gathering, the Day of Judgment, we beheld on that occasion. Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with wonder. Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion."

"Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha!", He, in another Tablet, has written, "as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful... Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed, the best His lovers could purchase for Him, and leaving behind Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of Constantinople. "Numerous were the heads," Nabil himself a witness of that memorable scene, recounts, "which, on every side, bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs, and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His stirrups." "How great the number of those embodiments of fidelity," testifies a fellow-traveler, "who, casting themselves before that charger, preferred death to separation from their Beloved! Methinks, that blessed steed trod upon the bodies of those pure-hearted souls." "He (God) it was," Bahá'u'lláh Himself declares, "Who enabled Me to depart out of the city (Baghdad), clothed with such majesty as none, except the denier and the malicious, can fail to acknowledge." These marks of homage and devotion continued to surround Him until He was installed in Constantinople.

  • Reference: Shoghi Effendi : God Passes By

Montreal, Friday Decembre 16, 2022 - Two Montreal Baha’is hosted a special reflection and conversation on zoom to coincide with the recent COP15 meeting.  Three conference delegates were invited, including two Baha’is.  One Baha’i delegate, Mwayi Mkanthama, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malawi and Environment Officer for his government, was too busy to attend the Friday afternoon reflection. Speaking from the Baha’i Centre downtown were Baha’i speaker Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, assistant professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and Fae Sapsford, a friend of the Faith and Marine Research Fellow with the Sargasso Sea Commission, an NGO based in Washington DC and Bermuda. Sylvia, who also serves on the governing board of the International Environment Forum, a Baha’i-inspired NGO, spoke about the laborious decision-making process within the COP system and a growing awareness of the value of aboriginal knowledge in addressing global biodiversity challenges.  Fae illustrated with colorful slides the significance of an enormous marine ecosystem known as the Sargasso Sea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean without land borders, and the awkward system of agreements and conventions that seeks, with very limited success, to provide sustainable protections for its important services, including the provision of food.

While most of the 21 participants in the zoom session were Baha’is, there were notable exceptions. Three friends of the Faith participated at the invitation of a Baha’i in Mont Royale. The Mayor of Saint-Laurent also responded to a personal invitation. His comments referred to the long-term contributions of the Baha’is in his borough working in partnership with his office on various community building projects, and he also shared details of the various biodiversity and climate adaptation projects in which his office is engaged both locally and nationally.

Notably, however, the COP15 final agreement is devoid of any attempt to address the centrality of a moral imperative or spiritual basis to the successful accomplishment of such high-minded environmental goals, in a world struggling under the burdens of disunity and tension, socioeconomic disparities, climate related upheavals and displacements, health and food crises, and war.  The absence of any attempt at defining those features of the inner human terrain that must be engaged in such a colossal and historic undertaking seems to ignore the irreplaceable role of those motivational forces which lie at the foundation of human progress.  Shoghi Effendi offers insight into the nature of spiritual forces that connect man to his environment:

“We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions”. – Shoghi Effendi, from a letter to an individual Bahá’í, 17 February 1933.

The two-week long UN COP 15 (the 15th session of the Conference of Parties on Biodiversity), concluded in Montreal on Monday December 19th, was the most important gathering on biodiversity in a decade, where 12,000 delegates from 160 countries agreed on 23 targets to be achieved by 2030. This agreement holds comparable importance to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.  Indeed, protecting biodiversity within the earth’s ecosystems, such as its oceans and forests, safeguards the services they provide for humanity, including the oxygen we breathe.  At the same time, these protections are an essential factor in limiting global warming. Montreal’s Le Devoir (December 20th edition) reported that the agreement had been enthusiastically received by the environmental and scientific communities.  The 23 agreed targets range from a commitment to ‘reduce to “near zero” the loss of areas that are rich in biodiversity, to the restoration of natural open spaces, stopping the human-caused extinction of species, minimizing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, elimination of plastics pollution, making agriculture and fisheries more sustainable, expanding ‘blue’ and ‘green’ spaces in cities, and assuring that decision making about biodiversity will include the voices of indigenous peoples, women, youth and disabled persons. 

Source: Fred Ming and Peter Adriance, Montreal Bahá’í Community

Photo : Courtesy CBC / AP

Montreal, April 23, 2023 - As part of Volunteer Week activities, which has been celebrated for the past 24 years, more than 200 volunteers were invited to a Recognition Brunch on Sunday, April 23, 2023. Hosted by Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa (Vice President of Sustainability, Environment, Parks and Open Space) and Councillors, six members of the Bahá'í Community were also among the guests. At the Volunteer Recognition Brunch, a slide show highlighted the accomplishments of Borough organizations since 2020 as well as those of the Baha'i Community!  

It was a welcome opportunity to renew the friendships that members of the St. Laurent Bahá'í Community have cultivated with members of the Laurentian community over the past quarter century!

A considerable number of the volunteers who are involved in the various projects are members of the Montreal Bahá'í Community. Raymond Flournoy (1924-2015), for example, served as a volunteer at St. Mary's Hospital in Montreal for much of his retirement, over 24 years! Many others have served as teachers, patient attendants, music teachers and captains of sports teams or in the Canadian military!

With a massive immigrant population, Saint-Laurent is a borough composed of more than 66 ethnic groups speaking about 100 languages and dialects. It is natural that there are a considerable number of organizations involved in volunteer work. Naturally, the members of the Bahá'í Community in this district were and still are involved in these activities for at least three decades!

Probably the first volunteer in this neighborhood was Suzanne Prud'homme (1933-2020) who worked throughout her retirement at Place Benoit. One of the main characteristics of the population that lives in Place Benoit is its very great diversity. In fact, some 50 ethnic groups of different cultural or religious backgrounds live there. Suzanne managed for about fifteen years the feeding and dressing of the inhabitants of this remarkable agglomeration! “We had even organized Learning courses for some families in this part of the city," says one of the Baha'is!

Other members of the Bahá'í Community are involved in non-profit organizations in the borough, such as CARI Saint-Laurent, Centre d'Encadrement pour Jeunes Femmes Immigrantes (CEJFI), Le Comité des organismes sociaux de Saint-Laurent (COSSL), Cégep de Saint-Laurent, the YMCA, the Maison des Parents de Bordeaux-Cartierville and Centre ABC (Centre Action Bénévole)

The Saint-Laurent administration has always held in high esteem the work that volunteers on a daily basis and that they contribute significantly to the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Saint-Laurent.

Montreal, November 26, 2022- A large number of the Bahá’ís and their friends from all over Montreal gathered at the Bahá’í Centre to celebrate the Day of the Covenant. This is the first time since the confinement from Covid that the friends gathered in such great number at the Centre.

The Day of the Covenant is the day when Baháʼís celebrate the appointment of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of Baha'u'llah's Covenant.  In accordance with Bahá’í calendar, it occurs yearly on the 4th day of Speech (Qawl) which coincides with either November 25 or 26 depending on when Naw Ruz (Bahá’í New Year) falls on that year. 

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá had stated that since May 23 was also the day that the Báb, the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, declared his mission, and should be exclusively associated with him, that that day should under no circumstances be celebrated as his day of birth. However, as the Baháʼís begged for a day to be celebrated as ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's birthday, he gave them November 26, 181 days after the ascension of Baháʼu'lláh, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant. The holiday was originally known as the Jashn-i-Aʻzam in Persian (The Greatest Festival), because ʻAbdu'l-Bahá was known as the Greatest Branch; in the West, the holy day became known as the Day of the Covenant.

On November 28, 2022, the commemoration of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's death was held by teleconference in the presence of several friends of the community. Here is the account of his death as told by Shoghi-Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith:

A month before His death (which occurred in the 78th year of His age, in the early hours of the 28th of November, 1921) He had referred expressly to it in some words of cheer and comfort that He addressed to a believer who was mourning the loss of his brother. And about two weeks before His passing He had spoken to His faithful gardener in a manner that clearly indicated He knew His end to be nigh. "I am so fatigued," He observed to him, "the hour is come when I must leave everything and take My flight. I am too weary to walk." He added: "It was during the closing days of the Blessed Beauty, when I was engaged in gathering together His papers which were strewn over the sofa in His writing chamber in Bahji, that He turned to Me and said: 'It is of no use to gather them, I must leave them and flee away.' I also have finished My work. I can do nothing more. Therefore must I leave it, and take My departure."

Till the very last day of His earthly life `Abdu'l-Bahá continued to shower that same love upon high and low alike, to extend that same assistance to the poor and the down-trodden, and to carry out those same duties in the service of His Father's Faith, as had been His wont from the days of His boyhood. On the Friday before His passing, despite great fatigue, He attended the noonday prayer at the mosque, and distributed afterwards alms, as was His custom, among the poor; dictated some Tablets -- the last ones He revealed -- ; blessed the marriage of a trusted servant, which He had insisted should take place that day; attended the usual meeting of the friends in His home; felt feverish the next day, and being unable to leave the house on the following Sunday, sent all the believers to the Tomb of The Báb to attend a feast which a Parsi pilgrim was offering on the occasion of the anniversary of the Declaration of the Covenant; received with His unfailing courtesy and kindness that same afternoon, and despite growing weariness, the Mufti of Haifa, the Mayor and the Head of the Police; and inquired that night -- the last of His life -- before He retired after the health of every member of His household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa.

 At 1:15 A.M. He arose, and, walking to a table in His room, drank some water, and returned to bed. Later on, He asked one of His two daughters who had remained awake to care for Him, to lift up the net curtains, complaining that He had difficulty in breathing. Some rose-water was brought to Him, of which He drank, after which He again lay down, and when offered food, distinctly remarked: "You wish Me to take some food, and I am going?" A minute later His spirit had winged its flight to its eternal abode, to be gathered, at long last, to the glory of His beloved Father, and taste the joy of everlasting reunion with Him.

The news of His passing, so sudden, so unexpected, spread like wildfire throughout the town, and was flashed instantly over the wires to distant parts of the globe, stunning with grief the community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in East and West. Messages from far and near, from high and low alike, through cablegrams and letters, poured in conveying to the members of a sorrow-stricken and disconsolate family expressions of praise, of devotion, of anguish and of sympathy. 

Reference: Shoghi-Effendi, God Passes By

Photos: Archives BWC – Room in his home in Haifa where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá passed away.

  • Funeral of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haïfa, Israël.
  • Image of the opening pages of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's Will and Testament.

 

Montreal, April 21, 2023 – The Montreal Bahá’í Community, like other similar localities around the world, celebrated the Most Great Festival of the Bahá’í calendar, the historically unique Festival of Riḍván. It is an occasion to elect the Bahá’í Institutions throughout the world, whether locally or nationally. Thus, the Montreal Community elected its local administrative body of nine individuals who are going to serve the Community for one year. It was the first time that such gathering was held at the Montreal Bahá’í Centre since the pandemic started in 2019.

This day also marks Bahá’u’lláh’s time in the garden of Riḍván outside of Baghdád in 1863. There, for the first time, He publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God.

“The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy peace. 1” 

What Bahá’u’lláh announced in the garden of Riḍván is outstanding. Not only did He claim to be a new Manifestation of God, but also the Promised One foretold in the Sacred Scriptures of all of the world’s great religions. He is the fulfillment in the continuum of Divine Messengers, who include Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and the Bab.

Shoghi Effendi elaborates Bahá’u’lláh’s station in God Passes By

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father,” the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father,” to Shi’ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. 2

Bahá’u’lláh refers to Himself as follows:

He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is Who is the one Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future. 1

This is the Paradise the rustling of whose leaves proclaimeth: “O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared. He Who, from everlasting, had concealed His Face from the sight of creation is now come.” 3

Bahá’u’lláh is giving us a dual responsibility. Not only are we asked to recognize Him and His station, but we are asked to obey His laws – such as spreading His Teachings actively, serving others, and manifesting goodly qualities such as love, generosity and kindness towards all.

Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Riḍván and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be Our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind. 3

Athough the garden of Riḍván was a location in Baghdád, but it could also be a spiritual place, a garden of delight, or City of Certitude.

What is important about Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings is the fact that He came to build a New World Order, to transform souls and to rejuvenate both individuals and collective society. Through the power of the Divine Springtime, we are able to make a new creation of ourselves as well as our communities.

… We have caused every soul to expire by virtue of Our irresistible and all-subduing sovereignty. We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace unto men. I am, verily, the All-Bountiful, the Ancient of Days. 3

In a Tablet revealed on the ninth day of Riḍván, Bahá’u’lláh asks God to help some of the believers to know themselves better. Since one can associate the period of Riḍván to fine-tuning all the understandings we acquire during the time of the Fast, the following quote is very endearing:

O Lord, help certain souls among them to know their own selves and to restrain their tongues, lest they utter that which would abase their stations and bring their works to naught. Thou, verily, hast power over all things. 4

All in all, the Writings make us realize the privilege of recognizing Bahá’u’lláh’s station and drinking even a drop of the chalice of eternal life, which ultimately is His Message and Teachings:

Drink deep, O ye dwellers of earth and heaven, from the chalice of eternal life that the hand of Bahá proferreth in this most lofty and exalted Paradise. By God! Whoso partaketh but a drop thereof shall neither suffer the vicissitudes of time nor fall prey to the wiles of the Evil One, but the Lord shall send him forth in every Dispensation adorned with a hallowed and wondrous beauty. All hail then to this, the Festival of the Lord, that hath been made manifest from the seat of the Lord of all wisdom! 5

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Days of Remembrance: Selections from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í Holy Days, Riḍván # 6
  2. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979 second printing, p. 94
  3. Ibid.
  4. Days of Remembrance: Selections from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í Holy Days, Riḍván #17
  5. Days of Remembrance: Selections from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í Holy Days, Riḍván # 7

Photo: BWC Archives - A delegate is voting during an International Convention

 

Montreal, October 26, 2022 - Bahá'ís around the world and believers in the various neighbourhoods of Montreal are celebrating these two joyous events on October 25 and 26 this year. These two celebrations are intimately linked because the life and message of the Báb centred on the imminent appearance of another divine messenger: Bahá'u'lláh.

Each year, the anniversaries of the birth of the Báb and that of Bahá'u'lláh are observed as twin holy days, since they followed each other within a day, according to the calendar in use in Persia at that time.

The life and teachings of the Báb mark a turning point in human history. Born Siyyid Ali-Muhammad in 1819, he took the name Báb, which means "the Gate" in Arabic. His public mission, from 1844 to 1850, represented a spiritual revolution that overturned the prevailing social, political, and religious order in Persia, opening the door to the new unifying vision of Bahá'u'lláh.

The Báb was a messenger of God in the succession of divine teachers who have come down through the centuries, including Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Báb appeared at a time in history when the cultures and peoples of the world were coming together as never before. The nineteenth century witnessed a series of changes in the economic, political, scientific, and cultural spheres so profound that one prominent historian has called it the century of "world transformation."

When he was only 25 years old, the Báb heralded the end of one religious era and the beginning of another. He inaugurated an independent religion with its own laws and sacred texts, including the Persian Bayán. In a short time, he attracted thousands of followers among the Persians. His public mission, which lasted only six short years, had far-reaching consequences.

On such occasions, it is customary to take a retrospective look at Bahá’u’lláh's life and work. The highlights of this retrospective focus on the major moments in Bahá’u’lláh's life - his birth on November 12, 1817 in Tehran, his life as a young prince before he took over the leadership of the Bábi movement, and the four-decade-long road of exile, imprisonment, and persecution, during which he revealed himself to his followers as the promised one foretold by the scriptures.

Bahá’u’lláh was born in Tehran on November 12, 1817, into a wealthy and distinguished family, a descendant of the Sassanid dynasty (a Persian dynasty, originally from Fars, which at the time constituted a vast empire stretching from Persia to Mesopotamia).

Although he did not attend any school, he showed astonishing wisdom and knowledge from his childhood. At the age of 13 he was clarifying religious questions that were totally obscure to the theologians of his time.

When he was 22, his father died. He was offered the high position at court that was customary in those days. He refused this honour and devoted himself to the poor and needy of society.

The Prime Minister of the time said that he could not understand him, but that he was destined for some high mission.

In 1844, at the age of 27, Bahá’u’lláh boldly embraced the new faith proclaimed by the Báb. It is noteworthy that these two great educators, though living at the same time, never met.

After imprisonment and banishment, Bahá’u’lláh openly announced his prophetic mission in 1863 in Baghdad. During his exile, Bahá’u’lláh wrote, dictating day and night, writings, tablets and prayers, keeping several secretaries busy transcribing everything.

Bahá’u’lláh ended his life in the Holy Land having bequeathed to humanity a new spiritual revelation. His life, work, and influence are comparable to those of the great messengers of God, such as Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad. For Bahá'ís, Bahá’u’lláh is the last of the messengers of God in this succession.

Photos: Bahá'í World Centre Archives, the Báb's Birthplace in Shiraz (top) and Bahá'u'lláh's Birthplace in Tehran.

Montreal, March 21, 2023 – Bahá'ís from different parts of the city such as Saint-Laurent, Coeur de l’Est and Centre-Ville, celebrated the New Year of the 180th Bahá'í Era!

Nasseem, a youth from DDO had the idea of having a display showing the preparation for Naw-Ruz and “ haft seen”  installation with the hope that it will spark the curiosity of whoever chooses to visit, to explore independently all that interconnects us interculturally through this holiday. The organization of Naw-Ruz was created out of a need to empower the children of immigrants living in the diaspora under assimilation, who might feel estranged, and encourage connection to heritage, customs, language and homeland. The goal is to amplify and adapt ancient traditions, and build an accessible community for diaspora misfits. Nasseem works in collaboration with other organizations, like Maktaba Bookshop, to create opportunities for connection.

Naw-Rúz is the first day of the Baháʼí calendar year and one of eleven holy days for adherents of the Baháʼí Faith. It occurs on the vernal equinox, on or near March 21, which is the traditional Iranian New Year.

The traditional Nowruz holiday, from which the Baháʼí holiday derives, has been celebrated since ancient times in Iran, and is observed by culturally-adjacent peoples in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Tajikistan. The Báb, the founder of Bábi Faith, and then Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, adopted the day as a holy day and associated it with the Most Great Name of God. The Baháʼí holiday as now calculated does not always fall on the same day as the traditional festival (but may differ by one day), and does not incorporate a number of Persian cultural practices associated with the traditional holiday, but is a religious event featuring readings from Baháʼí scriptures.

It is new year, wrote Abdu’l-Bahá —that is to say, the rounding of the cycle of the year. A year is the expression of a cycle (of the sun). But now is the beginning of a cycle of Reality, a New Cycle, a New Age, a New Century, a New Time, and a New Year. Therefore, it is very blessed.

The rising of the sun at the equinox is the symbol of life, and likewise it is the symbol of the Divine Manifestations of God, for the rising of the Sun of Truth in the Heaven of Divine Bounty established the signal of Life for the world. The human reality begins to live, our thoughts are transformed and our intelligence is quickened. The Sun of Truth bestows eternal life just as the solar sun is the cause of terrestrial life.

This period of time is the Promised Age … Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its garb … The New Year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand.

This day in Persia inaugurates a feast which continues for thirteen days and in which all take part, rich and poor alike. They adorn themselves with new clothes and their houses are open to all. Money is distributed, music is played and the houses are decorated with flowers, for it is a fete; work is put aside and enjoyment invited. Travelers in Persia feel this transformation, for the country is in a state of complete renewal. A town which seemed dead yesterday comes to life today. People who looked anxious yesterday, today have faces shining with gladness. The poor man of yesterday, with sordid garments, is well dressed today and the whole national life is infused with joy. From time immemorial this day has been consecrated, for in this there is a symbol. At this moment the sun appears at the meridian and the day and night are equal. Until today the north pole has been in darkness. This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all. This is the beginning of the spring. When the sun appears at the equinox it causes a movement in all living things. The mineral world is set in motion, plants begin to sprout, the desert is changed into a prairie, trees bud and every living thing responds, including the bodies of animals and men. The rising of the sun at the equinox is the symbol of life and the human reality is revivified; our thoughts are transformed and our intelligence is quickened. The sun of truth bestows eternal life, just as the solar sun is the cause of terrestrial life. The day of the appearance of God's messenger on earth is ever a sacred day, a day when man commemorates his lord. Among the ancient Persians this day was looked upon as the holy day of the year - a day when hospitals and charitable institutions were founded, collections for the poor were made and every effort put forth that it might not be allowed to pass without leaving some divine trace and throughout Persia one sees these historical traces. I am spending this New Year’s Day in Paris. I hope for considerable results from this fact. May a powerful influence remain in your hearts, signs of eternal joy and happiness that will illumine the kingdom in this city. May the breezes of the Holy Spirit waft upon you, that your intelligence may progress and your souls rejoice in your lord. Thus will you become eternal beings shining in the divine kingdom.

Sources: – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 345.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 74-76

Montreal, September 21, 2022 - An inspiring and promising ceremony was held at the stroke of noon in Beaudet Park, also known as "Peace Park" to mark the International Day of Peace. Bringing together key players from the borough, including members of Council, the Acting Mayor, the MNA for Saint-Laurent, representatives of some 15 community organizations, as well as some 60 young people of all ages, this celebration was organized in partnership with the borough of Saint-Laurent, the Intercultural Committee of the Saint-Laurent Social Agencies Committee, and the Bahá'í Community of Montreal.

Saint-Laurent is known for the peaceful cohabitation of its many cultural communities, and this was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the peace and social harmony that has prevailed there for many years. 

One after the other, Laurentian personalities took the stage to give their testimony and their vision of a world free of racism and racial discrimination. Young people also took an active part in this ceremony. Forty students from the École internationale des Appendants and fifteen from the Centre Communautaire Bon Courage Place Benoît delivered their very touching message on racism and peace through poems, slams, drawings and crafts and ended with a fashion show! A duet of a piano student from Cégep de Saint-Laurent accompanied by the violin of a high caliber musician, Jacques Proulx, accompanied the participants throughout the ceremony.

Since 2021, we have chosen to propose a perennial and mobilizing theme that encourages people to think and act," says the Saint-Laurent borough communications officer. If we want to "Act for Equality", we must first name and recognize the issues, problems and constraints that exacerbate inequalities, and then propose and implement concrete initiatives.

In her address, the representative of the Montreal Bahá'í Community, Gigi Vidal, mentioned that the United Nations is proposing that in 2022 we put an end to racism and build a lasting peace. To achieve this, "we need to create a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race.... We all have a role to play in promoting peace.  And fighting racism is a significant way to do that." 

She emphasized, "We will continue to raise the banner of Unity in Diversity." "World peace is not only possible, it is inevitable." Furthermore, she made an appeal to young people: "You are our ambassadors and builders of peace! Together we can change the world!"

To conclude, the participants gathered for a minute of silence to think about the victims of war and injustice in the world.

It was a very touching and memorable ceremony.

Montreal, February 26, 2023 - Through Montreal, Communities have prepared to celebrate the Intercalary Days (Ayyám-i-Há) of the Bahá’í calendar. These days of joy, generosity and sharing are important opportunities to find creative ways to connect with one another.

From 26 to 1 March inclusive, in Canada and around the world, people, neighbours and friends gather to celebrate the Intercalary Days or Days of Há or Ayyám-i-Há. This festival falls between the 18th and 19th months of the Bahá'í calendar.

The Bahá'í calendar is a solar calendar with 19 months of 19 days each, plus four or five days depending on the year. These days are called Intercalary Days or Days of Há or Ayyám-i-Há. They are devoted to the exchange of gifts and presents, hospitality, generosity, charity and also to the preparation of the month of Elevation, the last month of the Bahá'í calendar, devoted to fasting and prayer.

The celebration of these feast days can take different forms, depending on the region of the world, and can be individual initiatives as well as activities decided in groups or in a neighbourhood. In Montreal, such as in Saint-Laurent, videoconferencing tools made it possible to share a prayer meeting, music, photos or videos, and to participate in small interactive joyful or benevolent animations. In some other neighbourhoods, however, friends have gathered in person to celebrate the event.

And it is always possible to meet outside by sharing a walk with neighbours or friends, to offer cakes and treats to one's neighbourhood... not to mention gifts to friends and family members. These are all rays of sunshine that bring joy, hope and comfort.

In Saint-Laurent, the service project of offering some cooked meals and clothes to the Bon Courage Community Centre of Place Benoît to be distributed to immigrant families welcomed in our neighbourhoods, went very well. The Executive Director, Mrs. Kadietou Savadogo was very touched by the generosity of the Community and thanked us for our contribution.

Tha Bahá'í Community of « Coeur de l'Est » also went to Terrebonne to celebrate the Ayyám-i-Há in company of a Bahá'í family who recently moved to this isolated area! (Photo: Patrick Limoges)

 

Bahá'í Center

 

177, av des Pins E
Montréal, QC H2W 1N9
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Phone: 514-849-0753

Click here for map and hours

 

 

Montreal Shrine

 

1548, av des Pins O, Montreal
Phone: 514-568-2104

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