THE LOTUS TEMPLE ,INDIA : CELEBRATING 200 YEARS OF THE BIRTH OF BAHA’U’LLAH THE PROPHET FOUNDER OF BAHA’I FAITH (1817-2017)
Baha’i Faith in India
India has been associated with the Baha’i Faith right from its inception in 1844, as one of the first eighteen people who recognized and accepted the Bab, the forerunner of Baha’u’llah, was from India. Today, over 2 million Baha’is representing the great diversity of the Indian nation live in every state of India in over 10,000 localities.
Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) is the Prophet of the Baha’i Faith. He is regarded by Baha’is as the most recent Divine Teacher in the line of the Messengers of God that have enlightened the peoples of the earth with their divine teachings. These include Divine Teachers such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. The central theme of Baha’u’llah’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification into one global society. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth, as perceived by Baha’u’llah, is to accept their oneness and, to assist the processes of unification of the entire human race and to thereby carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.
Unity in Diversity – the Central Theme of the Baha’i Faith: Inspired by the teachings of Baha’u’llah and the guidance of the Baha’i institutions, Baha’is of India follow a systematic pattern of human resource development in a seamless fashion building capacities of individuals from different age groups and different walks of life to enable them to lead a life of service to society.
The experience and learning of the Baha’is of India lends credence to the fact that human beings are born noble and that it is the word of God which is endowed with that regenerative power- understanding of which helps one to engage in an enduring path of spiritual and social transformation.
The Lotus Temple, located in Delhi, India, is a Bahá’í House of Worship that was dedicated in December 1986, having been completed for a total cost $10 million. It serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it has become a prominent attraction in the city. Like all Bahá’í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion or any other qualification. The building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides,with nine doors opening onto a central hall with height of slightly over 40 metres and a capacity of 2,500 people. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. A 2001 CNN report referred to it as the most visited building in the world.
The Bahá’í Faith teaches that a Bahá’í House of Worship should be a space for people of all religions to gather, reflect, and worship. Anyone may enter the Lotus Temple irrespective of religious background, sex, or other distinctions, as is the case with all Bahá’í Houses of Worship. The sacred writings of not only the Bahá’í Faith but also other religions can be read and/or chanted, regardless of language; on the other hand, reading non-scriptural texts is forbidden, as are delivering sermons or lectures and fundraising. Musical renditions of readings and prayers can be sung by choirs but no musical instruments can be played inside. There is no set pattern for worship services, and ritualistic ceremonies are not permitted.