The Bahá’ís Celebrate an Historic Bicentenary

Entrance to Shrine of Baha’u’llah
Entrance to Shrine of Baha’u’llah

Across Canada, Bahá’ís this year are celebrating a significant anniversary in the history of the Bahá’í Faith, at the same time as the country is commemorating 150 years since confederation.

It is the bicentennial of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet and founder of the Bahá’í Faith. Born in 1817 in Tehran, more than five million Bahá’ís around the world today revere Bahá’u’lláh as the most recent of history’s Messengers from God, whose purpose has been to guide humanity towards the advancement of human civilization.

Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings revolve around the oneness of humanity, and His Revelation signals a special time in history as the entire human race moves to a new stage in its collective maturity and wholeness. The challenges and tribulations of this transitional phase in the story of humanity resemble the changes encountered as a person passes through adolescence and becomes an adult. Bahá’ís understand the world to be on the threshold of an age in which education for all, equality of women and men, a just and equitable system of governing the earth, and upholding science and religion will be among the values and achievements of a prosperous and peaceful world society.

Bahá’ís are eagerly anticipating the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh on Sunday, October 22. This historic occasion is immediately preceded by the Birth of the Báb, the Prophet- Herald of the Bahá’í Faith on October 21. These successive days are called the Twin Holy Days by Bahá’ís and festivities encompass both days with events spread through the 48-hour period (Bahá’í days begin at sunset, so celebrations may be held from Friday evening through Sunday later afternoon).

Despite the continuing persecution of Bahá’ís in the land of its birth, Iran, the Bahá’í community has grown and spread throughout the world since Bahá’u’lláh’s passing in 1892. Bahá’ís now live in over 200 countries, and reside in some 100,000 localities. In Canada, Bahá’ís can be found in every province and territory, residing in more than one thousand localities, and from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds, from among the Indigenous peoples, and multi-generational Canadians, to more recent immigrants and refugees.

“All joy to this night through which all days have been suffused with light,” is one of the descriptions of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh from the Bahá’í sacred writings – a sentiment that reflects just how cherished a holy day this is for Bahá’ís.