All posts by Naysan Naraqi. Browse Other Authors

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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The Fellowship Farm Book Series: An Interview with Melanie Lotfali

It’s not often you hear about Baha’i inspired novels aimed at children, and so when I heard that there was this great series of  books called The Fellowship Farm series, I had to find out more.

The Fellowship Farm books are a series of ten novels for primary school aged children. Readers follow the Fitzgerald family who live on a farm in Tasmania, Australia as they go about their daily life. The Fitzgerald family experience crisis and victory, seize and neglect opportunities to develop their virtues, achieve (and on occasion fail to achieve) unity, as they go to school, work on the farm, go camping, find abandoned puppies, live through bullying and a even a snake bite, build a tree house, host Holy Days and so on. In an engaging way their stories offer a model of a healthy, loving family striving to practice the Teachings of Baha’u’llah.

The feedback from everyone who’s read the books has been fantastic, so I decided to catch up with Melanie Lotfali, the author of these wonderful books, to find out more. Continue reading

Mystic Music: An Interview with Brett Smith of Smith & Dragoman

The mystical and soul-stirring music of the Canadian duo Smith & Dragoman can be felt in all three of the groups albums, originally inspired by The Dawbreakers, and are each based on a certain chapter of the history of the Baha’i Faith.

Their debut album Open The Gates, is based on the heroes and heroins of the Babí dispensation, and their follow-up album Under The Lote-Tree, continues the saga of the those early Babí’s who became followers of Baha’u’llah. Continue reading

10 Documentaries about World Religions

As a Baha’i, it’s important to know about other religions – actually it doesn’t really matter if you’re a Baha’i or not, the fact is that we live in a religiously diverse world and the more we know and learn about each other and our belief systems, the better we can hopefully get along.

I really love watching documentaries, and there are some great documentaries out there which focus on some of the various world religions and/or certain aspects of them. I thought I’d share a list of 10 interesting and informative documentaries I’ve seen about some of these world religions, and I know there are a lot of other great documentaries about religion out there, but I thought these 10 would be a good place to start:

1) The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha

Narrated by Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere, a long time practicing Buddhist himself, The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha tells the story of the life and spiritual journey of the Buddha (the founder of Buddhism), from his childhood to his final days. .

DVD blurb: Two and a half millennia ago, a new religion was born in northern India, generated from the ideas of a single man, the Buddha, a mysterious Indian sage who famously gained enlightenment while he sat under a large, shapely fig tree. The Buddha never claimed to be God or his emissary on earth. He said only that he was a human being who, in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, had found a kind of serenity that others could find, too. This documentary by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin tells the story of his life, a journey especially relevant in our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion.

Continue reading

Soulboy: An Interview with Khalil Fong

Which Baha’i musician has millions of fans and concerts that pack out stadiums? Khalil Fong – that’s who! “Who?” you ask? Well, to many of the English speaking world, the name Khalil Fong may not ring a bell, but to the Mandarin speaking world in China, Singapore and Taiwan, Hong Kong based pop-star Khalil Fong has been playing to packed-out stadiums and he continues to pump out the hits!

Besides having over six million followers on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter), six albums under his belt, and approximately 180 music awards, Khalil has also been praised by the media for his upright character and for being such a positive role model for young people.

I was first introduced to Khalil Fong’s music several years ago when a close friend of mine had given me Khalil Fong’s first album Soulboy, and even though I don’t speak Mandarin, as soon as I pressed “Play”, I was humming and snapping my fingers to the beat.

When I was in Hong Kong a short time ago, there were posters of Khalil everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE! I walked into a HMV music store and there was an entire display at the entrance dedicated to his latest album titled “15”, and when I took the CD over to the counter, the guy at the register nodded approvingly of my choice and said “Good album, good album!”.

I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Khalil Fong, and I was really impressed by his humility and the dedication and professionalism with which he approached his musical career. It was also very obvious that being a pop-star was exhausting work, with a hectic schedule and the pressures of always being in the spotlight, so I was really pleased that he was able to squeeze in an interview for Baha’i Blog. Continue reading

First Video Showing Construction of New Baha’i Temple in Chile

For the first time since the Universal House of Justice announced the project in 2001, video of the construction of the Baha’i House of Worship in Santiago, Chile has been released by the Temple project team!

The video briefly explains the unique and award winning design of this House of Worship and shows various images and video of the work currently being done.

To find out more about the Baha’i House of Worship in Chile, you can go to the Temple’s official website.

You can also learn more about Baha’i Houses of Worship in general here, or check out some of our other Baha’i Blog posts relating to Baha’i Houses of Worship below:

1) 21 Stunning Photos of Baha’i Houses of Worship

2) Baha’i Trivia: Houses of Worship

3) What Kind of Temple is This?

Nordic Devotion: An Interview with Refuge

Refuge is the wonderful musical outcome of a group of friends and musicians in Finland, who came together to record an album inspired by the Holy Writings of the Baha’i Faith.

The majority of songs are in English but there are a few in Finish as well. This truly beautiful and inspirational album really swept me off my feet when I first heard it.

I decided to catch up with Elina Kuitunen and Mea Karvonen, two of the members of Refuge to find out more about this wonderful album and initiative. Continue reading

The MANA Story …and why I think it’s important.

For the past decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with the music group MANA, who’ve recently finished recording their fifth album. Many of my friends and the Bahá’ís I’ve met while travelling have asked about MANA and why this project in particular is so important to me.

Well, before I answer that and start going on and on about MANA (which, trust me, I can do for hours), for those of you who haven’t heard of them, here’s a quick introduction.

MANA, which means “inner power” or “strength of spirit” in many of the Polynesian languages, is a musical and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Island Bahá’ís who are mainly based in Sydney, Australia. MANA’s albums are all based on the passages from the Writings which are studied in the sequence of Ruhi books. Although these albums are predominantly in English, most of their songs are infused with the languages, chants and rhythms of the Pacific Islands. The group has released four albums so far – one album for each of the first four books of the Ruhi sequence – and is currently preparing their fifth album (based on Book 6 of the Ruhi sequence of books) for release.

MANA’s albums have been incredibly well-received around the world, but the MANA project (as we like to call it) is far more than being just about making music and selling CDs. Personally, I have always found MANA to be such a powerful and incredibly inspiring initiative because of the way it exemplifies many of the concepts and ideas discussed by the Universal House of Justice in relation to the Institute Process and the various Plans. To me, MANA represents many of the aspects of the new and exciting culture taking shape in the Bahá’í community. Continue reading

The Ascension of Baha’u’llah

The Mansion of Bahji, in Acre, Israel, where Baha’u’llah passed away on May 29, 1892. (Photo by Kamran Granfar courtesy of Baha'i Media Bank)

In the early hours of the morning of 29 May, 1892, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith passed away.

The commemoration of His passing is called ‘The Ascension of Baha’u’llah’, and Baha’is throughout the world pay their respects with prayers and selected Baha’i Writings. It is also one of nine days in the Baha’i calendar year, where work should be suspended.

For almost 40 years Baha’u’llah suffered imprisonment and banishment, originally from His birthplace in Persia (present day Iran), to Baghdad, and then to the Ottoman cities of Constantinople, Adrianople, and then finally to the infamous prison city of Acre (in present day Israel), where He was held in a cold and damp cell. Continue reading

Acoustic Devotion: An Interview with Omid Master

Photo by Leila Barbaro

Singer-songwriter Omid Master lives in Port Douglass, a small coastal town popular with the tourists in the tropical north-east of Australia. Omid has been strumming and thumping out the tunes with a rock band for years, and having already released a few commercial albums with tracks successfully hitting the local charts, he’s recently taken it down a notch and recorded an acoustic album with the help of a few friends.

The album’s called Acoustic Baha’i Devotions, and that’s exactly what it is – Baha’i Prayers and Writings set to unplugged, down-to-earth acoustic guitar and other instruments.

I decided to catch up with Omid to talk about the album and his career as a musician in general. Continue reading