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Dellaram is a Baha'i, wife, and mother of three, who works as a freelance journalist and copywriter in her hometown of Ballarat, Australia. She is passionate about building community and loves the thrill that comes with op-shopping!

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Journalism: A Vehicle for Change

While I was serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, one of the youth asked a member of the Universal House of Justice his views on the best career choice. I remember he used the example of someone who decides to make a living as a street-sweeper, doing so in order to maintain a clean and pleasant environment for the community. He continued on to say that it wasn’t important what career path we chose to pursue, as long as we used our work to serve humanity. Abdu’l-Baha sheds light in this regard:

In the Baha’i Cause, arts, sciences and all crafts are counted as worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.

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Why & How Do Baha’is Pray?

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

Prayer is an integral component of Baha’i life. It is the very foundation upon which our lives as spiritual beings are built. In my opinion, without prayer, we weaken the vessel which acts as our connection to the divine realm and revert to being physical beings living a solely physical life.

There are many different settings in which we can pray as Baha’is. But before we delve into some of these, it is important to explore what prayer is. Continue reading

My Thoughts on Moderation and My Use of Social Media

Not long ago, I took the plunge and went on a social media detox. (Please note: this was well before the release of The Social Dilemma documentary when people were uninstalling their apps in hordes).

The reason I decided to clear my phone of some select apps was that I found they were having a negative effect on my mental and social well-being. I was spending far too much time scrolling fanatically through my news feeds, changing swiftly from one app to another and then back again, and subconsciously becoming burdened by the nonsensical task of checking all my notifications. My days were fettered by comparison, vain imaginings and an attachment to the world, and I knew it wasn’t healthy.

However, after some much-needed reflection, I realised it was a classic case of “It’s not you. It’s me”, with the “you” in question being social media. I came to the conclusion that while Instagram and Facebook weren’t necessarily mitigating my social media addiction, I did need to strengthen my ability to use these platforms sensibly and in moderation. Abdu’l-Baha says: Continue reading

Integrating Arts into Community Life: The Experience of the Baha’is of Ballarat

I’m really excited to share a special arts initiative by the Ballarat Baha’i Community. In honour of the centenary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia, we have invited renowned Ballarat musicians Geoffrey and George Williams to create a virtual choir using a choral piece based on the Writings of Baha’u’llah. It is a song that they composed for the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah in 2017 and now, as a virtual collaboration, my Baha’i community is really hoping the song can foster connection, bind hearts, and induce joy and happiness during a time when feelings of isolation and sadness are rife around the world.

The choral piece is taken from Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah:

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face…Be an ornament to the countenance of truth…a breath of life to the body of mankind.

The end result is bound to be spine-tingling, and my community and my friends are so excited to see the final production. Submissions are encouraged from everyone. Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant. Whether you have a lot of experience singing or not is irrelevant. Whether you are Baha’i or not is not the point. One thing is for certain – knowing that people will be coming together to sing words centred around generosity, gratitude, compassion and joy is sure to bring about some much-needed relief amidst a global crisis, not to mention the inspiration we are all bound to gain. For as Baha’u’llah says:

We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may he lifted up unto the realm on high.

I’ve included some details on how to participate in the virtual choir below but before I get to that, I wanted to share how this project came about and what I’ve been reflecting on in the process. Continue reading

My Reflections on Gratitude During Times of Crisis

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from one of my local city council representatives. The council had recently launched a podcast in order to cast the spotlight on how people were adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, and they were wondering if I would speak on the topic of gratitude from the perspective of a person of faith.

It was the perfect chance for me to explore and (strive to) articulate exactly why I was grateful to be a Baha’i, particularly during a time of crisis. The most obvious source of gratitude is that the Baha’i Faith provides me with the guidance, strength and perspective I need to carry forward amidst times of intense difficulty – guidance to seek happiness in the happiness of others, to serve others, and to care for others. It is this outward focus that I truly believe gets us through trying times. It gives us purpose and brings us real joy. As Shoghi Effendi says: Continue reading

How to Be a Heroic Baha’i Today

A youth studying the spiritual empowerment of junior youth in Montero, Bolivia. (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)

Oftentimes, I find myself reading chronicles from early Baha’is, immersing myself in their stories of complete selflessness, utter sacrifice, and staunch devotion to the Cause of God.

I find myself thinking that my humble undertakings serving the Baha’i Faith pale in comparison to what they endured in a bid to spread the Message of Baha’u’llah.

Abdu’l-Baha writes:

…ye must in this matter—that is, the serving of humankind—lay down your very lives, and as ye yield yourselves, rejoice.

But what does it mean to lay down our lives? I think that this is one of many metaphorical references found in the Baha’i Writings to giving up one’s life and it makes me ask myself, what does it symbolically look like for me to give up my life to the beliefs I hold dear? And how can I do so rejoicingly?

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Some Personal Reflections on 100 Years of the Baha’i Faith in Australia

Hands of the Cause of God Hyde Dunn and Clara Dunn with a group of Baha’is in Australia, c. 1940. Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

While reading the Tablets of the Divine Plan, American Baha’i Clara Dunn looked up from her page and voiced a sincere plea to her husband Hyde Dunn:

“Let us go where Abdu’l-Baha wished to go.”

Where had Abdu’l-Baha wished to go? In the Tablets of the Divine Plan He said:

O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of [Baha’u’llah] in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.

These tablets, written to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada in 1916 and 1917, set out strategies for ensuring that the Message of Baha’u’llah could be learned about in every corner of the world.

Clara made her plea in 1919, only two short years after she and Hyde Dunn had married. At that time, the couple was almost in a state of poverty. For many, the idea of leaving home at the ages of 52 and 65 respectively, and immigrating to a foreign land without any financial backing would be ludicrous. Hyde Dunn, unhesitatingly, answered with these words:

“Yes, we will go.” Continue reading

6 Ways My Home Community Plans on Celebrating the Bicentenary

Photo courtesy of Elliott Vreeland

Over 20 years ago, my family left metropolitan life and moved to the Australian regional centre of Ballarat. Located an easy 90-minute drive west of Melbourne, the city is renowned in Australia and abroad for its goldrush history. However, I like to think of its claim-to-fame as being the fact that Australia’s first ever Baha’i woman Effie Baker was raised there, and it was in Ballarat where she received the knowledge and training that would ultimately lead to her serving the Faith as one of its most notable photographers.

With a population of about 100,000, Ballarat is certainly rich in culture, history and heritage. But the reason I love my hometown most of all is because of the strong sense of love, unity and devotion which underpins the Baha’i community. While relatively small (we have less than 30 adult believers and about 15 children and junior youth), we have always managed to work within our means to serve the Faith in a spirit of utmost humility, forging a pattern of collective life that is warm, inclusive and ever-advancing.  Continue reading

The Tablet of Visitation: A Personal Reflection

They say if you want to remember a particular moment in your life, you should listen to a piece of music. Melodies help us recall the very shape and form of an experience or moment in time. The same can be said about fragrance. Wear one type of perfume for a set period and you will always associate that scent with that same period in your life.

During her last month of volunteer service in the Holy Land, my sister-in-law listened to one selection of music only. Upon her return home and whenever she heard those specific melodies, she would immediately be carried away to Israel where the memories of her last few weeks in paradise replayed vividly in her heart, mind and soul.

The Writings of the Faith have a very similar effect on one’s senses. They are a melody, a fragrance, and they have the power to transport you to a different time or place – conjuring up memories, feelings and emotions of times gone by. Continue reading