A unique experience – The Royal Gazette
Created: March 5, 2022 08:00
Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo and Read Currelly in Haifa, Israel, during celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Photograph provided)
Last year the Baha’is celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who is the son of their Founder, Baha’u’llah.
Two members of the local National Spiritual Assembly traveled to Haifa, Israel to attend the centennial services. Read Currelly and Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo have been selected to represent Bermuda for this unique experience.
“The governing body of the Baha’i Faith – the Universal House of Justice – communicated to each National Spiritual Assembly that two representatives, one male and one female, should be chosen to attend the centenary,” Currelly explained.
“Shyama and I were chosen at random and words really couldn’t explain what this meant to us. Excitement isn’t even a good word to describe it. It was an incredible experience.”
More than 1,300 people attended the centenary in Haifa, along with representatives of Baha’i National Assemblies from around the world.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was His Father’s designated successor and interpreter of His writings. As such, he is a central figure in the Bahá’í Faith.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá died on November 28, 1921, at his home in Haifa. He is buried at the Shrine of the Bab, a place of reverence for those of the Baha’i Faith. Various centenary events have been organized around the world to commemorate this occasion.
Centenary attendees in Haifa embarked on a sort of mini-pilgrimage, spending three days visiting holy sites followed by three days of lectures.
Reflecting on the trip, Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo described it as “an extremely joyful, respectful, humbling and uplifting experience”.
Globally, there are approximately 7 million people who identify as Bahá’ís, which is a small number compared to other world religions.
“Bahá’í communities are small compared to the general population. So to be with so many other people of the same faith has been a very beautiful experience. I get goosebumps talking about it,” Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo said.
Along with the deep sense of reverence and spiritual connection felt during the centennial, Mr. Currelly and Ms. Ezekiel-Fagundo found the sense of togetherness to be the most moving part of their journey.
According to Currelly, it seemed like cultural barriers were breaking down as he connected with people all over the world.
“What really struck me when I was there was that we had representatives from almost all 195 countries. And when we approached anyone, we were greeted with smiles We struggled a bit with language barriers but that quickly dissolved and we could talk to anyone on a love and friendship basis.
“It gave me a glimpse of what this world would be like in the future, when we do what Jesus asked us to do – make the earth as it is in heaven, make this world a world of love and of peace.”
The Shrine of the Bab and the Resting Place of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Haifa, Israel (Photograph provided)
World peace and unity is an important goal for Baha’is.
Members of the Faith are called to live by a set of principles laid down by Bahá’u’lláh, which they believe will help transform the world and bring about universal peace. Some of these principles include: the unity of the whole human race, the abolition of all forms of prejudice; the harmony that must exist between religion and science, the equality of men and women and the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty.
Although these principles may seem lofty and unattainable to some, Bahá’ís believe they can be achieved through personal responsibility and community action.
“One of the most moving things I took away from this trip to Israel is that we already have the plan. We have the same goal, to create a better society for all of us. It’s a job of building society. It’s not just about personal salvation,” Ms. Ezekiel-Fagundo said.
“Every faith, every manifestation of God has promised world peace. How quickly we get there depends on humanity. Human agency is what changes the planet.
On March 21, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Bermuda will launch a podcast. Reinventing Bermuda: Answers to Today’s Problems will discuss some of the basic tenets of faith and ways individuals can work to create a better society for all.
The podcast will be broadcast on www.bermudabahai.org and Facebook.
“We are not trying to make everyone a Baha’i,” Mr. Currelly stressed. “But we would like to find all like-minded people from all walks of life and come together to create a community again. The goal is to walk a path of service together.
To learn more about the Bahá’í Faith, visit www.bermudabahai.org