Astyages's Weblog

January 12, 2010

A Baha’i Barbeque

Filed under: About — astyages @ 6:29 pm

Picture 1: Farid’s daughter plays guitar for a game of Pass the Parcel, whenever the music stops a prize is unwrapped.


Picture 2: Girls’ and boys’ toys are alternately unwrapped; a lot of thought went into the preparation of this game!
Picture 3: A clever musician knows how to ensure that everyone gets a prize; everyone’s a winner; there are NO losers!
Picture 4: The final prize is cleverly engineered to be ‘won’ by Farid.
Picture 5: At the end of the game, everyone piles onto Farid for a ‘group hug’.
Picture 6: Even the adults want to get in on the act as the group hug expands! Farid is evidently a very popular man!
Picture 7: Farid examines his ‘loot’.
Picture 8: A budding rockstar! This young lad (all of 10 years old!) and I had a brief but enjoyable ‘jam’ session, which was only let down by my lack of knowledge of ‘heavy metal’… And he let me play that gorgeous guitar too!

A Baha’i Barbeque   



On Sunday 3rd of January (a week ago yesterday) I went to a barbeque held by one of Adelaide’s several local Baha’i communities in the parklands next to the Aquatic Centre in North Adelaide. It was a lovely day with temperatures much more pleasant than those we have been experiencing for the last few days.   

Before I talk about the barbie itself, however, let me tell you all why an agnostic amateur anthropologist like myself is so interested in this relatively new religion:  

Baha’is believe that throughout history God has revealed himself to humankind through the words of a series of divine messengers, which have included, Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. The teachings of these ‘prophets’, whom the Baha’is refer to as ‘Divine Mirrors’ because the message and light of the same, unique Divinity is reflected in them, have the nature of a ‘progressive revelation’.   

Each of these ‘Mirrors’ reflects a particular message for a particular people at a particular period in time; hence the need for more than one ‘prophet’. However, the religions founded by these ‘Mirrors’ all come from the same source and represent successive chapters in the development of what is essentially one religion, which comes from God. The latest of these ‘prophets’ or ‘Mirrors’ is the Baha’i prophet from whose name they derive the name of their Faith, Baha’u’lah, who said that, “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens,” and that, as foretold in all the ancient scriptures of the past, now is the time for Humanity to live in unity, according to God’s plan.   

Bahá’ís believe that the most crucial need facing humanity at present is to find a unifying vision of the nature and purpose of life and of the future of society. Such a vision, they believe, is revealed in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh. They also believe that:   

*All humanity is one family.   

*Women and men are equal.   

*All prejudice, racial, religious, national or economic is destructive and must be overcome.   

*We must investigate the truth for ourselves, without preconceptions.   

*Science and religion are in harmony.   

*Our economic problems are linked to our spiritual problems.   

*The family and its unity are very important.   

*There is one God.   

*World peace is the crying need of our time.   

Those piglets from the Pigs’ Arms and regular readers of ‘Unleashed’, who have followed some of my debates on the subject of religion on ‘Unleashed’ will perhaps recognize how very similar these beliefs are to some of my own, and although personally I still think that when Humanity finally grows up it will need its god(s) about as much as your average adult needs the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, I think that if any kind of religion is acceptable, it would surely be one such as this, with its emphasis on egalitarianism and the unity of the whole Human species.   

This emphasis can be seen by observing the manner in which they organize events, which are very much all group efforts, emphasizing harmony and cooperation. I was also impressed by the emphasis on non-competitive games, as will be seen by the example of a game of Pass the Parcel, which I observed and photographed.   

The Baha’i version of this game is quite different from the game I grew up with and used to play at birthday parties, school Christmas parties etc. In this perhaps more traditional version of the game, as the parcel is passed the player who is left holding the parcel when the music stops unwraps a single layer of paper until finally after many, many layers of wrapping have been removed, the person who unwraps the final piece of paper is left holding the prize and is deemed, the winner; all the others are ‘losers’.   

The Baha’i version of this game, however, is quite different: as each layer of paper is removed a prize is revealed and whoever unwraps it keeps the prize thus ‘won’. The layers are cleverly alternated so that prizes which suit girls alternate with prizes which suit boys; a clever musician can thus make sure that everyone playing the game receives a prize; there are NO losers; everyone’s a winner!   

All in all, I must say that I much prefer the Bahai version of ‘Pass the Parcel’ to the traditional one! And if I were to ‘believe’ in any kind of religion at all, it would be one such as this, although I wonder if the Baha’is have heard of a similar religion which emerged recently in South-East Asia, called Kao Dai… I must check that one out too!   

Above are a few photos from the event which I hope will be self-explanatory, although I should perhaps point out that my new friend, Farid, is a teacher of Baha’i doctrine to many of the children present.   

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