Baha’is across the world and in Saskatchewan are celebrating the birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the religion, by opening their doors and teaching people about their faith.
Baha’u’llah was born 200 years ago in Iran, from where his teaching spread across the world. The faith emphasizes the oneness of humanity and acknowledges other spiritual figureheads and prophets.
Payam Dehghani is member of the Regina community of Baha’is who has coordinated many of the celebrations.
“Baha’is want to extend an invitation to everyone, to get to know Baha’u’llah and his teachings and perhaps have a glimpse of why it’s such a widespread community,” said Dehghani.
For those born into the faith, like Dehghani, there is a requirement that they “investigate the truth,” themselves, as he said. “When I was 15 my parents had provided me, certainly an education and encouraged me to look at all the other scriptures. Major religions, not religion,” said Dehghani.
After his own personal search he concluded that the faith was the right fit for himself. For him his faith encourages and asks that he serve and help people in the world and community.
“It’s not just a bunch of writings, or something I read every day. It’s really a restlessness, a willingness to serve. The most important tenant of being a Baha’i is to serve human kind,” he said. In fact, he said it’s a big part of what motivates him as a cardiologist.
But before that, while still living in post-revolution Iran, he and his family were persecuted for their faith. “I was kicked out of school when I was 9 or 10-years-old, and our parents picked up and left to a much more welcoming country, which was Canada,” said Dehghani.
That persecution is still ongoing for Baha’i people in Iran, where the religion has been officially banned since 1979.
Regina has a unique connection to the Baha’i community that endures to this day. William Sutherland Maxwell was a well known Canadian architect and a prominent member of the faith. He also designed Saskatchewan’s Legislative Building.
The Saskatoon Baha’i comminity is also celebrating this weekend, with their Light of Unity Festival Sunday afternoon in the Grand Salon at TCU Place.