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Montreal, March 28, 2018 - As part of the week of action against racism, the Egyptian Bureau of Cultural Affairs in Montreal organized a conference exhibition with guest artist Marlène Luce Tremblay.

The theme of the evening being “Egypt Immuable II”, the photo-painting exhibition represented the influence of this historic country on World Heritage. Among about forty guests representing several cultural organizations of the city, one could distinguish the presence of the cultural attaché of Switzerland, the cultural attaché of Egypt, the secretary of the Egyptian office in Montreal, the journalists, the artists as well as the media director of the Bahá'í Community.

It should be noted that the majority of guests knew the Bahá'í Faith and its principles! Many questions have been asked about the activities of the Faith in Montreal and around the world. Some were even surprised that the Bahá'í Faith existed in the Holy Land before the formation of the State of Israel!

Marlène Luce Tremblay, whose canvases adorned the walls of the Egyptian Cultural Affairs Bureau in Montreal, is a painter and photographer living in Hudson, Quebec. Thanks to her work and following many trips to the Middle East, she offers an "archeology" of the Arab world to the spectators. This artistic endeavor was undertaken by exploring Egypt and presenting exhibitions in Canada and Egypt as part of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Egypt Immuable II”, the exhibition is open to the public from April 1 to 30, at the Cultural Affairs Office of Egypt at 1 Place Ville-Marie.

Launched for the first time in March 2000, Action Against Racism Week (SACR) is part of annual events to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, celebrated on March 21.

Complementary and in addition to all the daily events of education, especially with regard to the misdeeds of racism and discrimination, the Action Week Against Racism is a special moment of reflection, exchange and awareness of the democratic values of our society and the importance of intercultural relationship.

The photo shows the cultural attaché of Egypt, coordinator of the festival Vues d'Afrique, Consul General of Egypt in Montreal, Consul General of Switzerland, director of media of Montreal, an Egyptian filmmaker, Marlène Luce Tremblay with a copy of his works on the back wall as well as representatives of other cultural organizations in Montreal.

Montreal, March 21, 2018 - The Bahá'í Community of Montreal celebrated the New Year on this spring day at Centre communautaire et aquatique (CAA), Côte-St-Luc. Over a hundred of different nationalities, ethnicities, cultures and languages ​​participated in this annual event. Celebrated around the world, this holiday is also a joyful occasion for Parsees (Zoroastrians), Iranians and other nationalities across the Asia and Middle East.

 This day also coincides with the official launch of Action Week Against Racism. This event was celebrated at the Montréal City Hall in the presence of guests, partners and representatives of various levels of government, as well as at Saint-Laurent City Hall and several other neighborhoods of the city.

 “This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all.”  

(‘Abdu'l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy)

 "Naw Rúz" [or Now-Rouz] is the feast celebrated by Bahá'ís around the world on the occasion of the beginning of the calendar and the Bahá'í year: March 21st, the first Spring day, the beginning of the awakening of nature, the blossoming of buds and flowers!

 What's more logical and more natural, indeed, than to start the year that day. Also, the Báb (the Herald of the Bahá'í Faith), who instituted the new calendar of the New Era, chose this date (March 21st) as New Year's Day, a choice ratified later by Bahá'u'lláh. This day has already been celebrated since centuries before Christ as a feast and was called "Naw Rúz". This is how it was kept for our Bahá'í New Year celebration.

 What did it represent in ancient Persia, since this festival is at least three millennia and probably more than 25 centuries old?

 "Now Rouz" (transliterated: Naw Rúz and pronounced No(w) Rouz, means in Persian: New Day. In Iranian mythology it is said that the Supreme God created the universe in six days: successively; Heaven, Earth, water, plants, animals and, on the sixth day, the Man ... A celebration for each of these creations: that of the appearance of the Man was called "Naw Rúz" !

 Until the year 538 BC, "Naw Rúz" was only the festival of Creation (of Man). From this date on ward, the Iranians will make coincide the New Year's Day with the first day of Spring. This change of date was made under the reign of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great who released the Children of Israel from the yoke of the Babylonians and was commissioned by God to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. Cyrus [of Mazdean religion (Zoroastrianism)] has an important rank since not only is he known as the first "promulgator" of a charter of human rights ensuring in particular religious freedom, but especially because he is called in the Bible: "the shepherd, the anointed of the Lord"!

 For more than 2,500 years, apart from those of Iran,  some inhabitants of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Caucasia , Turkey and Iraq are also celebrating "Naw Rúz".

 For the Iranian calendar (which is completely different from the Islamic calendar and which would be one of the few to start on the first day of Spring), it represents, in addition of the New Year which is celebrated for 12 days - a 13th day during which one must leave the house for a joyful communion with nature.

 Despite the invasion of this region by Alexander of Macedon, the armies of Islam, the hordes of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and despite the vicissitudes of the times, this festival persisted and, being a common point, even served to unite culturally the peoples of the Iranian Plateau ...

In mythology, tradition and Iranian culture, "Naw Rúz" is considered the Feast of the Creator, the appearance of Man, the Feast of Nature, Fecundity, Hope and Peace . It is also the Feast of the Family, Respect towards the head of the family and the elderly, Friendship, Generosity, Joy and Children ...

 

“To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.”
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted by J.E. Esselmont in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 83.

Whether the Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas, is an interesting question!

The Bahá’ís believe, Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, was the Promised One of all religions. Therefore, all major religions are true, from God and the Bahá'í Faith is the one for the present age. It will be almost impossible to celebrate the festivals of all of the religions, so the Bahá'ís celebrate their own festivals instead. Events in the life of Bahá'u'lláh and the early history of the Faith mark the Bahá'í Holy Days. The following account demonstrates the profound respect that the Bahá’ís have for Christ. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (son of the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith) traveled to the West in 1911 after forty years of imprisonment, he went to England from the Middle East, and among his hectic schedule of meetings and public addresses, He: …witnessed a performance of “Eager Heart,” a Christmas mystery play at the Church House, Westminster, the first dramatic performance He had ever beheld, and which in its graphic depiction of the life and sufferings of Jesus Christ moved Him to tears.
– Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 284.

The drama, written by the English poet and playwright Alice Mary Buckton, who later received ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at her home in Byfleet Surrey, tells the tragic story of a woman who fervently prepares for the Christmas visit of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but then vacillates when a homeless refugee family shows up at her door. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá wept during the scene in which the Holy Child and His parents, overcome with fatigue, and suffering from hunger and thirst, were met with the hesitation of Eager Heart to admit them to the haven of rest which she had prepared, she, of course, failing to recognize the sacred visitors. [Abdu’l-Baha], afterwards, joined the group of players. It was an arresting scene. In the eastern setting. The Messenger in his eastern robes, speaking to them, in the beautiful eastern words, of the Divine significance of the events which had been portrayed.”
– The Baha’i World, Volume 4, p. 379.

The Bahá'í Faith is all about unity, and Bahá'ís do not wish to cut themselves off from the rest of humanity. Christmas is celebrated by most people in Canada and elsewhere and the Bahá'ís join in these celebrations with their Christian friends. Nevertheless, they do not celebrate Christmas amongst themselves. In a Bahá'í family, for example, where the parents and children are Bahá'ís, they do not usually buy one another Christmas presents. But if grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are not Bahá'ís, the Bahá'í family will exchange presents with them and will celebrate with them. The Bahá'í children at school will happily join in the nativity play and sing carols. This is not a problem, because Bahá'ís revere Christ as a Messenger of God. In fact, Bahá'ís believe Bahá'u'lláh to be the Return of Christ. Bahá'ís respect everyone's beliefs therefore they do not see any difficulty with joining in the celebrations of their friends who might be Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or of any other beliefs. In countries where for instance Buddhism might be the main religion, Bahá'ís will celebrate Buddhist festivals with their friends and relatives who are not Bahá'ís. Exchange of presents is done usually during a celebration at the end of February, the four or five days designated as “Days of Giving”, when there will often be parties for both children and adults. Children may also receive gifts on some of the other Holy Days.
 
What is New Year to the Bahá’ís
Bahá'í new year is celebrated at a different time. The Bahá'í Faith calendar, and the Bahá'í new year falls on the 21st March each year. It is known as Naw Rúz in Persian or the New Day. However, if Bahá'ís are invited to join in festivities on 31st December they will quite happily accept, just as they are quite happy to invite anyone to a celebration for Naw Rúz. In fact, Bahá'ís enjoy hosting parties and inviting their friends to Holy Day celebrations. This is all part of bringing people together to build the unity which the world so desperately needs today.

Montreal, February 25, 2018 – Some thirty friends from different parts of the city gathered at the Bahá'í center to celebrate the first day of the "intercalary days".

The intercalaryst inclusive, constitute a period of preparation for fasting. They are dedicated to hospitality, charity and the exchange of gifts. The intercalary days have the merit of being associated with "the letter Há". The numerical value of this letter in the Arabic numerical system "abjad" is five, which corresponds to the potential number of intercalary days. In the Holy Writings, the letter "Há" has received several spiritual meanings, including that of a symbol of the essence of God.

The Bahá'í calendar was created by the Báb "Herald of the New Era" in 1844, the year that marks the beginning of this universal religion. Based on the solar year, it starts on March 21st, with the spring equinox and is divided into 19 months of 19 days, plus four intercalary days which bring to the count of one year. Each new day begins at sunset. Every four years, a fifth day plays the role of February 29 in the Gregorian calendar. The Báb named the months according to the qualification of the attributes of God.

During these days, the Bahá'ís receive or visit their friends and help the needy. The day of the Bahá'í year, like that of ancient Persia, is defined by astronomy; it begins at the spring equinox (March 21), and the Bahá'í era begins with the declaration of the Bab (1844 AD - 1260 after the Hegira).

The Báb had not fixed a specific place for the intercalary days in the new calendar. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas "The Most Holy Book" solves this question by assigning to the "surplus" days a fixed place in the calendar, immediately preceding the month of 'Ala', the period of fasting.

"... those days of generosity that precede the period of restraint, ..." Bahá'u'lláh enjoined his followers to dedicate these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity. In a letter written by Shoghi Effendi (the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith), it is explained that "the intercalary days are specially reserved for hospitality, gifts of presents, etc. ".

Another dazzling success for the bicentenary of Bahá'u'lláh!

 Montreal, November 20, 2017 - The 40th edition of the Montreal Book Fair has been magical with six captivating days of book discoveries, rich exchanges and dynamic activities for all tastes. 119,000 visitors were welcomed and 2,000 authors as well as more than 1,000 publishing houses were present. The Bahá'í booth received more than 2,000 visitors including journalists, university professors and scientists.

This year, The Baha'i Publishing Trust offered visitors a theme related to the anniversary of Bicentenary of the Prophet Founder of Faith: "Bahá'u'lláh, His Call for the Unity of Humanity". Throughout the exhibition, from November 15 to 20, dozens of young people engaged in deep conversations about the principles that could change society. Three large multicoloured posters including Bahá'í principles adorned the walls of the booth, with a design of great beauty.

The 40th edition of the Montreal Book Fair was again marked by an astonishing amount of varied activities for readers of all ages and for all tastes! Among them, it was impossible not to marvel at the decorative panels of the Bahá'í Booth designed by a talented artist from the Montreal community, Elham Paiendeh.

Eighteen thousand young people were welcomed with their teachers during the three days reserved for them. A host of activities have been designed to draw their curiosity and increase their reading pleasure! Adolescents are more likely to read than we can think, and the Bahá'í Booth has given them a place to express their impressions.

 The experience of these six days of celebration makes it undeniable that the Montreal Book Fair remains an essential showcase for books and culture, as well as a place of exchange, discovery and listening. Pleased with the success of this 40th edition, the organizing Committee would like to warmly thank all of our collaborators, volunteers, illustrators, editors, readers and the media that supported us during this annual event!

Montreal, February 4, 2018 - On the occasion of World Week of Interfaith Harmony, the Bahá’í Community of Montreal organized two "Open House" evenings at the Bahá'í Shrine inviting Inter-Faith Organizations to come and visit this sacred place.

The first meeting took place on Sunday February 4th and the second on Wednesday February 7th during the regular schedule of the Shrine.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event to be observed during the first week of February starting in 2011.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in resolution A/RES/65/5 adopted on 20 October 2010. In the resolution, the General Assembly, points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly of the United Nations encourages all States to support during that week the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Longueuil, Friday October 20, 2017 - An intimate concert was held in a historic hall in Longueuil, Quebec, in celebration of the Bicentenary of the Twin Birthdays of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.

Featuring music composed by Lucie Dubé, some 100 invited guests heard the story of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and listened to exquisite settings of six of the Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh.

For many in the impressive, flower-filled hall, built in 1852—precisely at the time when Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in the Siyah Chal in Tehran—it was a first exposure to the powerful figure of Bahá’u’lláh and to the significance of His teachings in the contemporary world. Many were moved to tears by the music, the deep reverence for the text, the attention to the beauty of each detail of staging and lighting, and by the profound dignity and depth with which the significance of the subject matter was conveyed. The compositions were performed by a small choir and soloists, with the composer at the piano, accompanied by a string quartet.

The musical compositions of the Hidden Words, begun more than a year earlier, form the basis for a CD recording and booklet which briefly recounts the history of both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and the nature of the Hidden Words as a work of sacred scripture, each of which is sung in French. Each invited guest received a personalized gift of the CD, and all were deeply touched by this unusually generous gesture.

Virtually the entire text of the beautiful booklet was memorized by a group of young professional actors, whose expressive narration of the basic history and spiritual principles of the Faith was interspersed with the choral music, the string accompaniment, and enhanced by dramatic lighting, to spellbinding effect.

The atmosphere of the evening and the joy which suffused all the participants, many of them devoted friends of the Faith, sprang from the remarkable spirit of prayerful and intense collaboration which went into bringing it to fruition, supported from beginning to end by the sacrificial contributions of both voluntary service and funds of many individuals, the community and the local institutions.

And on the wings of the music and text, the spirit of this undertaking will live on through the Bicentenary of the Báb, and into the future, touching in turn unnumbered receptive souls, who, stirred by this sublime gift, will go on to attract others to the Cause of the Blessed Beauty.

The music may be enjoyed, purchased/downloaded at 9Star Media (https://9starmedia.com/lucie-dube-les-paroles-cachees) or by writing to the Service de Distribution Bahá’í du Québec at:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the booklet and a code for a free download of the CD.

Montreal, January 17, 2018 - Some 150 members of the Montreal Bahá’í Community gathered at the newly renovated Bahá’í Centre on 177 Pine Avenue East to celebrate the occasion and the 19 Days Feast. Representing a large variety of ethnic as well as age groups, they were coming together from nine different boroughs of our city.

 Two of the Assembly members in 1983 who were present at the Feast told the friends the story of how the Bahá’í Centre was purchased then. Kay Hopkinson, a member of the Bahá’í Community of Montreal at that time made a simple suggestion at a 19 days Feast to purchase a Place of gathering for the friends. As the procedure goes, the suggestion was forwarded to the Spiritual Assembly, the governing body which administers the affaires of the Community. The Assembly welcomed the suggestion and approved of it. The Montreal Community was relatively small and the Assembly had little money in its Bank account. The island of Montreal had some 15 municipalities with a Bahá’í Administrative Bodies until January 1, 2006 when the municipalities and Montreal joined together as one city.

 In early days of the Faith most meetings were held at the home of Architect Sutherland Maxwell and his wife May Boles where the Montreal Bahá’í Shrine is located now. As the membership of the Community grew, the Bahá’í activities were held at either YWCA downtown or at the home of the friends. Therefore, the expenses were little and the amount of money kept in the bank was also little.  The Assembly came up with a bright idea to organize a fundraising event and collect the necessary funds to purchase a Centre. The event was scheduled at the Negro Community Centre. It happened that an ice storm paralyzed all activities in Montreal and surroundings. There was little hope to have a large gathering and collect a lot of money!

 The Hand of the Cause John Robarts (one of the members of a Body by that name to help expansion and other activities of the Community) who lived in Rawdon, Quebec with his family was scheduled to be present at that fundraising event. His daughter who was supposed to drive him to the event was afraid that the treacherous ice covered roads might cause an accident and there was no way that they would go to the Fundraising. John, nevertheless, was determined to be in Montreal and nothing could stop him to do so! He put on his hat which he had worn while in Haifa visiting Shoghi-Effendi, the late Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, decided to take a taxi and arrived at the Negro community Centre! He had the intention to auction his hat in order to generate funds for the Montreal Bahá’í Centre.

 As it was expected, not very many people managed to be present at the meeting due to ice storm, nevertheless five thousand Dollars was raised that evening! The Spiritual Assembly appointed a committee to search for a suitable building to purchase and the present location was found. Unfortunately, it was located in residential area and it needed a permit from City Hall in order to be used for public activities. One of the above Committee members contacted the relevant office at the City Hall which denied the request without further discussion.  Another member tried again and managed to get hold of an official at the Mayor’s Office. When this official was informed of the purpose and activities in the Bahá’í Centre, the permission was granted without further question. The major problem was still lack of funds. The price of the property was $100,000 – a lot of money at that time! There were very few Bahá’ís then who owned a property and the late Raymond Flournoy was one of them. He managed to mortgage his own home in order to obtain a second mortgage and enable the Assembly to buy the property. Surprisingly, the anniversary of Raymond’s passing was on this day, November 17! 

 The Assembly was painfully paying the mortgage then coincidentally, the daughter of Architect Sutherland and May Maxwell, known to the Bahá’ís as Rúhíyyih Khánum, came to Montreal for a Conference. She heard that the Montreal Bahá’í Community has purchased a property and asked whether the mortgage has been completely paid? She was told that $20,000 is left to complete the payment! She thought for a moment and said that her mother, May Maxwell, had kept a Bank account in Montreal and she thought that there was exactly $20,000 in it! She generously donated the amount to the Montreal Bahá’í Community thus the mortgage was fully paid.

 The beautifully renovated Bahá’í Centre is open to the public, has a library to purchase Bahá’í Books as well as a reading library accessible during the opening hours of the Centre.

Saint-Laurent, October 26, 2017 - The celebration of Unity in Diversity to build a better future together! - aimed at bringing together citizens who are concerned about the Laurentian community and who are eager to improve it - took place in a warm atmosphere of unity, respect and sharing at Cégep de Saint-Laurent , with the participation of about thirty people including the Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Mr. Alan DeSousa who opened the meeting with a word of welcome. The representatives of the following institutions and organizations that were part of the round table talk are as follows: CEGEP Saint-Laurent, Center for Young Immigrant Women, Saint-Laurent Social Organizations Committee, Saint-Laurent Baha'i Community, Montreal Police Service - Neighborhood Station No. 7 and YMCA Saint-Laurent. The event was organized by the Baha'i Community of Saint-Laurent in partnership with the Cégep de Saint-Laurent.

During this event of reflection and exchange, each panelist tried to define ways that should allow to achieve unity in the rich diversity of our borough. How to promote this richness, to welcome the other while respecting our values and those of others? How to understand each other, to appreciate one another and to establish harmony between all? How to combine our energies and put it in the service of the common good? How to put forward and make known our strength as a borough?

In his address, the Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, said: "This community is rich in many cultures from here and elsewhere, who have learned to live together in harmony ... We are very happy for this initiative and wish that you would share the results of your discussions. "

As a highlight to mention was the humorous testimony of a young Cégep Saint-Laurent student via a video clip on Racial Discrimination produced by the Cégep. There was the enthusiasm of the members of the round table for the idea of unity in diversity and which were themselves united and complementary in their statements about what can be done, concretely, to promote true unity in diversity. Also note the richness of the remarks during the period of exchange and discussions with all the participants, without forgetting the social part which allowed us to forge bonds of friendship!

The photo shows: Alan DeSousa, Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Ariane Bureau, Pedagogical Advisor for Student and Intercultural Life at Cégep de Saint-Laurent and Round Table Facilitator, Gigi Vidal, Director of the Community Affairs Office of the Baha’i Community Montreal, Régine Alende Tshombokongo, CEJFI Director, Margot L.-Leonard, the representative of the Baha'i Community of Saint-Laurent, COSSL Executive Director, Maria Ximena Florez, Director of the YMCA Saint-Laurent, Marie-Josée Meilleur, the pedagogical advisor in French at Cégep de Saint-Laurent, Rosine Sicignano, the pedagogical advisor of the Continuing Education Direction, Cécile Hernu, the Commander of the Montreal Police Service, Neighborhood Station No. 7, Cédric Couture, and the young comedian Mehdi Agnaou.

Seeds planted over the last seven years bore fruit in a Montreal, Que., neighbourhood as those working in the community celebrated Bahá’u’lláh’s birth.

The Bahá’í community-building process started in the Côte des Neiges neighbourhood in 2010. Currently, a group of nearly 20 individuals live and serve there, including both Bahá’ís as well as friends from the wider community. Together they planned a celebration for the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.

The event was the culmination of weeks of effort to undertake home visits to explore the importance of Bahá’u’lláh’s message, primarily with young people and their parents. The youth each came up with ideas of how they could contribute: by making posters for the event, ushering guests as they arrived, writing speeches about how Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings have influenced their lives and reading prayers at the celebration. Adults in the community prepared meals, drove children to the event and beautified the venue.

Around 130 participants attended the event, 70 of whom were friends of the Faith. The celebration was incredibly joyful and moving. The short speeches that were given regarding the influence of Bahá’u’lláh moved some to tears.

In his speech, one 13-year-old shared, “The junior youth group helped me to think about the meaning of life; for example, what is our purpose here on earth? It helped me establish my own identity – to know who I am and how I should act towards others. It developed my capacity to serve society and to work with others to help the community … and showed me the importance of true friendship.”

A portion of the film Light to the World was also shown and the event concluded with a dance celebration utilizing music from all over the world – a befitting tribute to the diversity of those in the neighbourhood.

Following the bicentenary celebrations, plans were made to expand the educational process by starting study circles, a children’s class, a junior youth group and accompanying friends as they arise to serve as teachers and animators. Dates for a junior youth camp and a children’s festival have been set and are in the process of being planned.

– Aayah Amir

 

Bahá'í Center

 

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Montreal Shrine

 

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