Reports stream in of bicentenary celebrations
Local and neighbourhood celebrations for the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb in New Zealand have been both large and small, and included a wonderfully diverse array of activities such as group study, devotional meetings, film screenings, presentations about the Faith and its Founders, visual and performing arts, sharing treats with workmates, special meals and morning teas, a donation of books to a library, and many others.
Below is a sample of a few of the reports received from various parts of the country, selected to showcase the sheer variety of events.
Christchurch: “The Unity Singers” gave a concert and sing-along session to residents of the Kauri Lodge Rest Home (workplace of one of the singers).
Christchurch: A CD compilation of songs about the Báb by Grant Hindin Miller, entitled “The True Morn” is now available and brings together in one set, all the songs related to the Báb that Grant has released over the years. The title comes from words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in an address in Boston, “the appearance of the Bàb was the early light of the true morn”.
Dunedin (north Dunedin neighbourhood): This celebration, held at a school, was described by the organisers as “…really exciting with a lot of positive comments from the participants. They enjoyed how it was not just formal devotions but also interacting with the arts and learning about the Twin Manifestations. This celebration was spearheaded by the friends of the Faith who are engaged in the training institute and the response from the wider community involved a lot of deep conversations and invitations to join the educational process happening in the community.”
Hutt City: Deb Gilbertson and the Hutt City Bahá’í community produced a book titled “The 200 Day Challenge: A Resource to trigger thoughtful discourse at devotionals dedicated to healing our world”. Each of the 200 pages covers an historical event in each of the last 200 years that was a great step forward for humanity — events like the end of slavery, Bahá’u’lláh writing to the rulers of the world, the invention of the car, the start of the green revolution, and the formation of the United Nations. Prompts for discussion and action are suggested.
Far North (Ahipara): A beautiful hui was held at Roma Marae. The programme focused on the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and their Teachings, discussion on community building activities, especially in relation to Ruhi Book 4, and some of the history of the local area including memories of the late Ephraim Te Paa. Youth played a notable role, bringing their vibrancy to the event. The featured photo for this page shows the participants in this gathering.
Far North (Kororipo): Eighteen people met at dawn on 29 October and ascended to the top most part of the Kororipo Pa, stopping to tell the story of the Birth and station of the Báb through karakia and music. At the summit the group was welcomed on the Pa by Kipa Munroe, the kaitiaki of Rewa Village. Dawn was witnessed through clouds and drizzle amid spirits full of light and joy. One of the friends spoke in te Reo Māori. Awareness grew of the increasing unity among the cultures of New Zealand and the power and breadth of the revelations of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
Gisborne: During a gathering of the Tairawhiti Interfaith Group, presentations were made on the Bahá’í Teachings, the history of the Faith in Gisborne and the significance of the bicentenary year, at the request of some members of the interfaith group who were interested to find out more about the Bahá’í community.
Hastings: One family gave a bicentenary presentation in their home using the 2019 Universal House of Justice Message "To all who have come to honour the Herald of a new Dawn". Those families that attended were gifted the booklets The Báb: Herald of the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh: The Divine Educator. The children were each given a prayer card displaying the prayer “O God Guide me...” in English and te Reo Māori.
Invercargill: A family held a celebration in their home, attended by seventeen Bahá’ís and four other friends. The children learned an action song that a family had created in Auckland. They performed it after the formal devotional programme. The story of “The Wild Stallion” (from the book The Horse of the Moonlight) was read to the children and adults who attended. It was a way to tell a story about the Báb that captured the attention of both adults and children.
Napier: A celebration was hosted in one family home under the auspices of the Local Spiritual Assembly. After dinner, where everyone was seated at a large table carefully prepared by the hosts, a video was shown, followed by dessert and devotions. Next, the film Dawn of the Light was screened and afterwards one of the special 2019 Twin Birthday cakes was cut and shared by the oldest and youngest Napier Bahá’ís present. Many guests took away the devotions cards which all had the address of the bicentenary website listed so those present could observe the activities happening all round the world.
Tasman: A children’s picnic and party was held at one home, with 46 attending from the wider community as well as four Bahá’ís. A presentation was given about the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. The hosts reported that the event was “simple but very much enjoyed by all who came.”
Thames-Coromandel: Two artworks were created for the bicentenary (these are shown in the photos below). One is a ceramic piece inspired by the Words of Bahá’u’lláh, “In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love.” The other work is an abstract painting symbolic of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, and themes from their lives and Teachings.
The national reporting form for bicentenary activities is still open. Any family, team, sector or community that has not yet reported their activities is strongly encouraged to do so by Sunday 3 November.
The link to the form is: https://forms.gle/1nwewgbwircnQmLb7
Below are some photos from bicentenary events. Click on the photos to enlarge them and see captions. (Not all these photos relate to items in the above list.)