Bahá'í followers celebrating bicentennial

The local members of the Bahá'í Faith will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh at a grand event at the Two Rivers Gallery on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The celebration begins with appetizers and a walk through of a display of the life of Bahá'u'lláh, who was born in Tehran in 1817, and whose wisdom the Bahá'í Faith is based.

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Similar celebrations are taking place around the world.

During the evening's offerings there will be a program from 7 to 8 p.m. which includes the telling of stories and devotions, featuring music and artistic performances followed by a time of fellowship and indulgences in desserts until

10 p.m.

"I always say there is one word that summarizes the Bahá'í Faith and that word is unity," Sophie Uzel, member of the Bahá'í Faith, said.

"Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, says there's only one God, there's only one religion, and there's only one race - the human race. It's simple but very powerful. Bahá'u'lláh explained that whether we are Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, it's time for us to realize that we all pray to the same god. So when we say there is only one religion what is meant is that all the world religions come from one defined source - God."

The Bahá'í Faith says that each religion is like successive stages in the spiritual evolution of the world, Uzel explained.

"Take the analogy of a book, the book of God," Uzel said.

"Each chapter builds on the previous one. We couldn't have come to this day of Bahá'í revelations without all the previous revelations. So far we have created separations, divisions - my god, your god, my religion, your religion, I have the truth, you don't have the truth, where there is only one truth and one religion and that's basically the message of the Bahá'í Faith."

There are more than five million people in the world who practice the Bahá'í Faith, she added.

"The emphasis is not based on belief but on actions," Uzel said. "So Bahá'ís , wherever they are in the world, are involved in community building. It's basically to empower residents in communities to take charge of their own spiritual, moral, social and intellectual development."

The Bahá'í community strives to offer spiritual education to children, and have junior youth groups that are geared for those children aged 11 to 14, recognizing that it is a crucial stage of life in any individual, Uzel said.

The group offers a safe environment where youth are guided to channel their energy in a positive way including conducting service projects. Locally the groups visit the elderly in seniors facilities where they will make crafts and sing to entertain them.

The youth also volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul Society's Drop In Centre where they prepare soup and sandwiches to feed those in need in the community. There are also block cleanups.

"At this age, it's good to have youth think about how they are part of a community and how they can serve and contribute to the community around them," Uzel said.

For adults there is a study program as well as acts of service.

"The Bahá'í Faith is not just a spiritual movement, it's a social movement," she added.

The Bahá'í Faith has two streams, Uzel added.

There is personal transformation as well as social transformation.

"Be the change you want to see in the world - isn't that the saying?" Uzel asked. "It's not enough to say you want peace in the world - it starts with us, right? It starts in our homes, in our neighbourhoods, in our communities. That's where it begins."

Everyone is welcome at any event or group activity as well as to attend the Bahá'í Faith celebration on Saturday.

On Sunday at 5 p.m. Light to the World, a film about Bahá'u'lláh, will be shown at Artspace, above Books & Co., 1685 Third Ave., and another showing will take place Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Prince George Library, downtown branch.



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