Thursday 25 May 2000
A prayer for peace
AHMEDABAD: The world over, the Baha'i community celebrated the Anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab one of the nine holy days celebrated by the community on Tuesday. One-hundred-and-fifty-five-years ago, with the announcement by a young Persian merchant that the Age of Fulfilment of the prophecies in the holy scriptures had arrived, began the commencement of the Baha'i faith. Bab, literally meaning 'the gate', is the title of Sayyid Ali-Muhammad who declared that he was a messenger of God, and was a forerunner of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the faith. Bab was imprisoned a number of times and finally publicly executed, as were his 20,000 followers.
Of the approximately 40,000 Baha'is in the state, about 300 live in Ahmedabad. "However, only 30 of these are active members," says Chairperson, State Baha'i Council of Gujarat and a member of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Ahmedabad, Radhika U Chinubhai. The community in the city assembled at the Baha'i Centre at Ambavadi on Tuesday at 6 pm and held a special service to pray for peace and harmony.
The community, known for its social service, has done remarkable work in the Dangs, where it has not only trained tribal women in tailoring, so that they can be economically independent, but has also guided the tribal community in the basics of health and nutrition. Says Auxiliary Board Member for Protection (for Gujarat), Swati Chinubhai, "We would like to work with other faiths in bringing about all-round tolerance in the society. Also, because ours is a faith that believes in all religions, does not believe in conversion and works towards community-development, our number grows on a daily basis." In fact, she states, that the community has been noted for its socio-economic service among the tribal women living near Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Though the members of the community claim that they have not faced any major oppositions as a community, individuals adopting the faith may not have had it smooth. For instance, take the case of Sukhversha Chopra of NID, Ahmedabad. Though her parents have not only accepted her joining the Baha'i fold, but also have themselves joined the faith, her parents-in-law are yet to come to terms with her becoming a Baha'i. "My husband, though initially reluctant, is not only supportive, but also believes in it and perhaps sooner or later, he too, will become a Baha'i," she says.
Radhika's, on the other hand, is a unique case, with her grand-parents being the propagator of the faith way back in the 1940s in the Shahpur area.
Whatever may be the reason of people joining the faith emotional or purely impulsive with its emphasis on oneness of humanity, more people will surely be attracted towards it.
©Copyright 2000, The Times of India