Saturday, Aug 24, 2002
Oasis of peace
Visualising brutal polarisation of religion, Bab, a Persian youth, laid the foundation of a new religion to embrace the entire human race, on May 23, 1844.
Known the world over as Bahai, it comprises individuals from virtually every country, ethnic group, profession and social class. In spite of their diverse moorings, the Bahais study a common set of sacred writings, observe universal religious laws and look to a single international governing system for guidance.
The Bahai history in India goes back to 1872, when Jamel Effendi, a Persian scholar, was instructed by Baha`u'llah to present the new Faith to Indian dignitaries. On December 24, 1986, the two million Bahais of India, realised their long cherished dream of offering silent prayers in their own Lotus Temple in Delhi.
Spread over 27 acres with 27 petal-shaped domes and nine pools, this oasis of peace, was designed by noted Iranian architect Fariburz Sahba. Its main structure comprises concrete and dolomite stones from Alwar (Rajasthan), marble from Greece and white cement from Korea.
Called the "Taj Mahal of the 20th Century", this unique place of worship owes much of its elegance to the basic motif of the lotus (implying unity in diversity) aptly translated into reality by computer-aided designing. The central hemispherical prayer hall with a seating capacity of 1,300 is open only to those who believe in praying in silence. Neither rituals nor sermons are permitted in the sanctum sanctorum.
Text and pictures by
©Copyright 2002, The Hindu