World Religion Day: Baha’i interfaith holiday kicks off trio for religious diversity

“O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.”
Portion of a Baha’i prayer, frequently read on World Religion Day

Colorful nine-pointed star graphic on darker background

A depiction of the nine-pointed star, revered by Bahá’ís because it is the numerical value of the word “Baha” and is considered, numerically, the sign of perfection. Photo by pourquoitesla, courtesy of Flickr

SUNSET SATURDAY, JANUARY 17: Take a few moments to consider unity through diversity, joining Baha’is in the observation of World Religion Day.

Initiated in 1950, World Religion Day follows an essential tenet of the Baha’i religion: the belief that all religions are one, with each prophet or messenger delivering God’s truth for his time and place. Though deeply engrained in the faith, the call to “consort with followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship” is particularly emphasized on World Religion Day. (Learn more about the religion at Bahai.org.) When a feeling of oneness amid world religions is lacking, Baha’is believe, true global peace can never be achieved.

Established by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States for the third Sunday of January, World Religion Day brings interfaith panels and discussions, conferences and multi-faith gatherings to Baha’i communities. While followers of Baha’u’llah’s religion recognize Baha’u’llah in a primary way—as one who brought a message of unity that is essential for our time—adherents also accept such religious figures as Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. World Religion Day was created to raise awareness of similarities between the spiritual principles of various faiths.

SPOTLIGHT: RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY

In the coming weeks, two other holidays will highlight interfaith and religious diversity: the World Sabbath of Religious Reconciliation—this year, January 25—and the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week, observed the first week of February. Both events encourage dialogue among faiths and the recognition of similarities.

IN THE NEWS:
PROGRESS REPORT ON THE BAHA’I TEMPLE IN CHILE

Baha’is hail from almost every nation, culture and ethnic group around the world, and recently, news publications have been focusing on the faith in Chile—and, more specifically, the first temple of its kind being built in the region. (Read a news article here.) Almost a century ago, an American woman traveled in hardship around South America, spreading awareness of the Baha’i faith that had begun just decades earlier. The religion stuck, and today, the first Baha’i temple is in progress in Santiago. The temple’s unique look will reflect concepts in the Baha’i faith, with an exterior made of cast-glass pieces and panels of marble to honor the daylight that will spill in and out of the structure. Upon completion, the temple will be three stories high and accompanied by an underground service tunnel.

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