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Do Bahá’ís observe the holy days of other religions?
Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur—a time of personal reflection, atonement, and creating personal improvement plans—have just passed in this season of Jewish high holy days. On Oct. 19 comes Buddhist Lha Bab Duchen, celebrating the Buddha’s great compassion to teach human beings how to overcome suffering and attain nirvana. In December comes the season of Advent and Christmas—celebrating the birth of humanity’s savior, born of the blessed woman Mary. As a religion that believes in unity between religions, celebrating the various religions as deriving from the same Source as “rays of one Light,” one may wonder if Baha’is celebrate all the holidays of the world religions.
That would indeed make for a busy but fun year, as interfaith calendars show that there are at-least 10 important holy days in October alone among the world religions! Trying to celebrate all of them ourselves would be an amazing challenge of human resources and ritual knowledge. Bahá’ís are not called to organize events for every religious holiday, but we are encouraged to visit in loving fellowship the worship services of other religious congregations, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or another. We are conscious that we are all members of one human family and God has sent all the world throughout time Intermediaries of His Self and Teachings as manifestations of His loving care for all humankind. In Bahá’í teachings to “Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning,”Bahá’ís find like meaning in Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Buddha’s compassion to teach us how to live in inner and outer peace or God’s infinite love to send us Jesus, born as a human apparently like any other, Bahá’ís joyously celebrate these as essential manifestations of God’s one Love for all humanity and may visit Buddhist temples or Christian churches to also do so. “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.”
However, within our own community life, Bahá’ís have our own calendar of nine holy days that celebrate the births, declarations, and “ascensions” (i.e. passing) of the Founders of what Bahá’ís believe to be God’s latest and promised sending of His holy Manifestations of His Self and Teachings to “quicken and unite” the human family. In fact, this year is the third of a series of years in which Bahá’ís have been celebrating the 200 years anniversaries of the births of the Founders of the Bahá’í Faith—Bahá’u’lláh (meaning “The Glory of God,” 1817-1892) and The Báb (meaning “The Gate,” 1819-1850). Comparable to Christians who celebrated at the turn of the millennium the 2,000-year anniversary of the Birth of Jesus, Bahá’ís revere the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh in much the same ways as Christians do Jesus, Sikhs their Gurus, and Buddhists do Siddhartha Gautama—the Buddha.
As you may find Bahá’ís at your synagogues, temples, and churches celebrating important holy days with you this year, as an expression of interfaith fellowship, Bahá’ís likewise invite each of you to celebrate the births of The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh with us on either or both of two successive evenings:
- Monday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m., Unity Center of Divine Love and Light, 4123 E. Lincoln Ave., Spokane—a special evening for everyone!
- Tuesday, Oct. 29, 6 p.m., Fireside Room Centerplace, 2426 N. Discovery Pl., Spokane Valley—catered dinner, video presentation, and a discussion panel!
In particular, this is the 200-year anniversary of the birth of the Báb: A Persian merchant, not yet 25-years old, He proclaimed in 1844 that this is the Dawn of the promised Day of God and he himself is the Promised One. In thousands of pages of writings Bahá’ís deem to be the word of God, the Báb called upon humanity to give up mere imitation of the religious traditions that we have been brought up in, and investigate, discern, and appreciate truth with our own hearts and minds, from whichever horizon the Sun may rise, from whichever garden the Flower may bloom. The Báb said, “Awake, awake, for, lo! The Gate of God is open, and the morning Light is shedding its radiance upon all mankind! The promised One is made manifest; prepare the way for Him, O people of the earth! Deprive not yourselves of its redeeming grace, nor close your eyes to its effulgent glory.” Often compared to John the Baptist in Christianity, he is believed to have prepared the way for Bahá’u’lláh who taught that the various religious worship one God, that humanity is one human family, the beauty of unity in diversity, prayer, social justice, harmony and reciprocity between science and religion, and that cultivating human virtues is key to uniting all humanity as citizens of one planet—God’s Kingdom on Earth.
We sincerely hope to meet you and that you will be our guests on Oct. 28 and/or Oct. 29 as we celebrate who are for us these two infinitely precious manifestations of God’s love in the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh!