Baha’i Faithful Gather To Celebrate Bicentennial Of Faith’s Founder

The 200th birthday of the founder of the Baha’i faith was celebrated Oct. 22 at the FairBridge Hotel and Conference Center.

Members of the Baha’i community and invited guests gathered at the FairBridge Hotel and Conference Center Oct. 22 to celebrate the bicentennial of the faith’s founder.

Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i religion, was born in Tehran, Persia, in present-day Iran. Bahá’u’lláh followed and amplified the teachings of a man known as The Báb, two years his younger, who was executed in 1850 by a firing squad in a public square. The Báb, and later Bahá’u’lláh, “supported the advancement of women, education, the sciences and respect for the environment,” according to a brochure distributed at the celebratory brunch.

Today, the Baha’i faith is worldwide, with its headquarters in Jaifa, Israel.

The brunch at the FairBridge Hotel – the former Holiday Inn – featured several speakers, including state Sen. Bob Smith (D-17), Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine (R), Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large) and Bill Grippo, a former township mayor and current principal at MacAfee Road School.

The program was moderated by Nishat Ruiter of Hillsborough and township resident Shirin Poustchi, whose family is prominent in the local Baha’i community.

State Sen. Bob Smith brought a joint resolution from the state Legislature, congratulating the Baha’i community on the anniversary.

Smith read a joint resolution unanimously passed by the state Assembly and Senate.

The senator called the Baha’is “a stabilizing influence in the community.”

“Continue to do the good work that you do,” he said. “May there be a greater influence of Baha’is in New Jersey.”

Levine praised the Baha’i community as one that promotes peace and understanding.

“I know in my heart that I wish people would follow your teachings,” he said. “That’s our mission here today in celebrating the 200th anniversary, to just plant those seeds for everyone.”

“This is an exceptional group of people,” Grippo said of the Baha’i community. “They are peacemakers. Not everybody’s a peacemaker.”

“This community, its hallmark is peacemaking,” he said. “Every year they’re at the Martin Luther King breakfast, or any peace rally or demonstration. Whenever there’s a public event, members of the community are there.”

Ruiter, one of the event’s hosts, said there have been many events during teh week to celebrate Bahá’u’lláh’s bicentennial.

“The real impetus behind this is to celebrate his message of peace and the community that has stemmed from his message,” she said. “Today’s program is really based on what Somerset and Franklin has done with respect to different activities, what we’ve locally done in the community, but then also to highlight a film that was created by the world center of the Baha’i faith in Jaifa, Israel, the Universal House of Justice, ‘Light of the World.’ It’s mainly to show how communities around the world are impacted by this message of peace.”

“We will share to day the vision and the life of Bahá’u’lláh, it offers a glimpse into what this person did in suffering in being imprisoned, in being banished from place to place, and his message to the kings and leaders of the time, to change the way they perceive leadership, and to stop the oppression and to work with people from all over,” she said.

Poustchi said the community is also strong among youth,

“We have children’s classes, junior youth groups and youth groups,” she said. “There are plenty of youth here who are involved in these initiatives and programs that really focus on not only our material education but also our spiritual education, and allowing them to feel empowered to really have a role in their community and what they can bring to society as well, and allowing those powers to be unleashed from within them.”

“We’re just happy that everybody can come together and celebrate with us,” she said.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate live-streamed an interview with Shirin Poustchi to talk about the Baha’i faith:

At the Baha’i celebration.

Posted by The Franklin Reporter & Advocate on Sunday, October 22, 2017



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