Born in Shiraz, Iran on 20 October 1819, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad would become known to the world as the Bab (meaning “the Gate” in Arabic). The Bab was the symbolic gate; it was His mission to herald the coming of this promised Manifestation of God whom we know to be Baha’u’llah. In the Baha’i calendar, the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah are celebrated one after the other in one festival referred to as the “Twin Holy Days”.
19 Animated Videos by the Baha’is of Ireland for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab
The Irish Baha’i Community is creating a series of 19 short animated videos in honor of the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith. These charming and succinct videos share warmly-told stories about the early days of the Baha’i Faith and about some qualities of the Bab. I was delighted when Trisha from the Irish Office of Public Affairs graciously agreed to tell us a little bit about them. I hope you enjoy our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: What was the inspiration to make a series of videos?
Our Office of Public Affairs decided that we’d like to commemorate and celebrate the Life, Heroism and Mission of the Bab and the early believers during the Bicentenary year of the Birth of the Bab. We are fortunate to be an Office with members and collaborators who are able to do some or all of the tasks associated with making videos so we decided this would be the best medium for us – a case of, “use what you have”, I suppose.
We then worked on developing a series of stories that are not only based on historical events but also highlight the qualities of the Bab and the other heroic souls who surrounded Him. Qualities and virtues like love, independent investigation of truth, obedience to God, truthfulness, selflessness, vision, insight, valour, regard for the wellbeing of society and – it goes without saying – courage of every sort. Our idea is that these qualities are vitally needed in the world, maybe never more than in present times when there is so much dysfunction, injustice and suffering.
To showcase these qualities we decided to tell stories that show the qualities rather than just speak about the qualities themselves. We also decided to add stories about the Irish connection with the Bab and the Baha’i Faith. As you know, our first video was about Dr. Cormick – whose father was from Ireland – and who is the only Westerner known to have met the Bab. We have another couple of videos in the series highlighting the Irish connection.
We tried to make all of the stories as simple and accessible as possible while still being historically accurate. Interestingly, some people think we have created the series for children but that isn’t the case. While we hope that the videos are indeed accessible for children, they are intended for everyone of every age, every nationality and, indeed, every religion or belief. We are fans of the advice attributed to Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
We chose to use stories and a story-telling style as stories are extremely powerful in transmitting concepts. Engagement with stories can allow us to have a peek at the thoughts, motives, hopes and feelings of others. This then can help us to form the so-called “theory of mind” which we need to use when we are navigating complex social situations. In other words, stories can help us to work out what to do in our lives when we find ourselves in uncharted territory.
To be honest, since we started working on the series and have become sort of immersed in these stories ourselves, some of us have even found that it has helped when working out what to do or how to be in much more ordinary situations. Love and courage and all the other qualities have applications in every sphere of life, I guess!
Baha’i Blog: How were the videos put together?
So, firstly we decided together which stories to tell and then as we work we split up the jobs – researching, writing, graphics, animation, finding the narrators and arranging the filming, finding music, filming and recording the narrators, editing, video production – there are quite a few jobs!
However, we are very fortunate as we find that everyone we’ve dealt with has been endlessly helpful. People have supported us and indulged our sometimes chaotic way of working and have let us film in their kitchens and gardens, before meetings, during projects – we really could not have made any videos at all without this goodwill and assistance.
Baha’i Blog: How have the videos been received so far?
The videos have been very well received. Obviously there is support in Ireland for these videos but we’ve also had lovely support from people all around the world. We have also had requests from a number of Baha’i communities for “clean” copies of the videos so that they can be translated into different languages. This makes us really happy as we feel it means we have created something that can be of use to others. (Public apology – the production of “clean” copies is behind schedule so to anyone reading this who has asked for clean copies – we are very sorry and we promise to get more of them to you as soon as we can!!!)
Baha’i Blog: What is the aim of the project?
As I said above, there are two main aims – one is to highlight the amazing virtues and qualities of the Babi period in a way that is accessible and relatable for all of us today as we work to build healthy, just and safe communities, and the other is to tell stories that show the connection between Ireland and the Bab and the Baha’i Faith.
Baha’i Blog: When will all the videos be released?
The final videos in the series will be released in October to celebrate the Twin Birthdays.
Baha’i Blog: Where are all the places the videos can be watched?
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.