This weekend (Nov 12-13), the Baha’i community of India commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi, India, known to many as the Lotus Temple.
Over five thousand people from all walks of life and religious traditions from all over India and 50 other countries gathered in New Delhi for the celebrations. In addition to prayers, music, presentations and performances, the event also presented three individuals and organisations with “Champion of Social Transformation” awards for their contributions in the fields of education of the girl child, youth empowerment and communal harmony.
The Baha’is of India aren’t the only ones commemorating the anniversary of the House of Worship. The Government of India, as part of its Incredible India tourism campaign, is featuring the iconic lotus-shaped temple on posters and billboards in 14 countries from South Africa to Japan, from the U.S.A. to Singapore.
“India represents the spirituality of all mankind,” said the Honorable Union Minister for Tourism, Subodh Kant Sahai, “and the Baha’i Temple is the one places where people belonging to any faith or religion can go for meditation or prayer.”
This message of inclusiveness is also a feature of the “Incredible India” campaign, said Naznene Rowhani, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of India. “Everybody who sees these posters will know that it is a temple, but more importantly, also what it stands for and symbolizes – communal harmony.”
Immediately following the Incredible India initiative, the image of the Temple will also be appearing as part of the “Delhi Meri Jaan” (“My Beloved Delhi”) initiative launched last year.
“We commemorate 25 years of the Temple and 100 years of the existence of modern Delhi that we have today. It’s a great coincidence.” explained Shelia Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi. She further says, “This is a beautiful building. It has become an iconic symbol. The appeal of the Temple is that it encompasses everybody. The Baha’i Faith is a very attractive faith. The message it gives to mankind is one of peace, prosperity and happiness.”
The Baha’i House of Worship in India opened in December 1986, and it is one of only seven Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world, which are open to all people for silent worship and meditation. Numerous international awards have recognized this edifice which took more than six years of construction to complete, and it has an estimated 10-14 thousand visitors a day, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world.
The House of Worship stands as a silent but powerful testimony to the oneness of God, oneness of religion and oneness of humanity. Baha’is feel that it is only natural that the anniversary of this edifice will also be dedicated to these principles.
We leave you with this quote from an interview with Mr Fariborz Sahba, the award-winning architect of the House of Worship on the sacrifices that are involved in the building of a House of Worship and its many rewards:
Bahá’í temples are built with the money which Bahá’ís donate voluntarily. The money they give for the glory of God is a demonstration of their love for Him. They believe such a monument will attract divine bounties, and the spiritual atmosphere it creates will inspire many lives. If you dedicate a corner of your house, perhaps only a small room, for prayers, you will have an entirely different feeling about that room, and anybody entering that spot will feel the spiritual nature of that place. Now just imagine the spiritual significance of this edifice which has been constructed with the universal participation of thousands of people from different races and religious backgrounds, all united in their purpose to achieve this lofty goal. It is a concrete embodiment of the unity of mankind in action. The Taj Mahal was built on the foundation of love between two persons. One can say there was no need for that building, for even without that monument the love between the king and his queen would have been eternal. Nonetheless, because that majestic tomb symbolised the love between Shah Jehan and Mumtaz, you feel attracted to the building to witness such a love even after centuries. Now imagine the impact of the love created by the Bahá’í House of Worship. Here, a spiritual love between man and God manifests the eternal source of all love. The temples of India are, today, the richest treasures you have from your ancient culture. These temples were built by the people out of their love for God. Thousands of ancient buildings, palaces, and cities have been destroyed. But most of the temples have survived the ravages of time and fortune because they were built in the name of God. The Bahá’ís have built a place of hope here. It is a sort of investment or saving. It is not the rich people who have given money to be distributed among the poor. On the contrary, it is mostly poor people who have supported this project because of their appreciation of love, unity, and beauty. However poor people may be, they still love to buy a pot of flowers to put in a corner of their room. Without love and beauty man is nothing. This Temple symbolises our love for aesthetics, a humble offering to our Creator in the most beautiful manner we can present it. You may call it a flower in the comer of our hearts. Taken from the New Delhi House of Worship website
Find out more about the 25th anniversary celebrations at the Delhi House of Worship website!
And don’t forget to check out our post by Michael Day about the spiritual significance of the physical structures of the Baha’i Houses of Worship!