Baha’i communities across the Portland Metropolitan Area observed the anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah starting at sunset on Wednesday, November 11th through the evening of Thursday, November 12th. Baha’u’llah, Arabic for “The Glory of God,” was born on November 12, 1817 in Persia. The anniversary of His birth is considered a Holy Day and work is suspended as Baha’is throughout the world take time to honor the most recent Manifestation of God, “the Promised One of all ages.”
Baha’is and friends of the Faith filled the worship hall of the Portland Baha’i Center on Wednesday evening. Prayers, readings from the Holy Writings of Baha’u’llah and historical accounts of His life were laced with musical selections performed by the Ladder for the Soul choir. One of the pieces, “O My God,” composed for the choir by Mr. Jack Stone, debuted at the observance. The choir also performed “O Baha’u’llah,” from the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, with music composed by Mr. Tom Price. After the observance, several people approached choir members to say they felt transported by the potency of that musical selection.
The readings selected for the observance illumined the spiritual intensity found in Baha’u’llah’s Holy Writings. One of the selections that particularly reflected Baha’u’llah’s message of unity for all of humankind was taken from the “Tablets of Baha’u’llah”:
O ye men of wisdom among nations! Shut your eyes to estrangement, then fix your gaze upon unity. Cleave tenaciously unto that which will lead to the well-being and tranquility of all mankind. This span of earth is but one homeland and one habitation. It behooveth you to abandon vainglory which causeth alienation and to set your hearts on whatever will ensure harmony. In the estimation of the people of Bahá, man’s glory lieth in his knowledge, his upright conduct, his praiseworthy character, his wisdom, and not in his nationality or rank. O people of the earth! Appreciate the value of this heavenly word. Indeed it may be likened unto a ship for the ocean of knowledge and a shining luminary for the realm of perception.
The evening was topped off with refreshments and fellowship. The Center was abuzz with discussions about Baha’u’llah, as well as personal reflections on the readings and music offered in the evening’s program. The warm glow of fellowship made it difficult to head back out into the cold November night.
As the sun set on Thursday, November 12th, the Baha’is of Clark County, Washington and invited guests bowed their heads in prayer. A large room at the Vancouver YWCA was filled to capacity with people who came to commemorate the anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth. After prayers, the crowd was treated to tables laden with dinner items. Pans of Persian rice, chicken, salad and meatballs were scooped up and thoroughly enjoyed.
After dinner, the Ladder for the Soul choir gave a half-hour performance, featuring music composed for Baha’u’llah’s Holy Writings. The program continued as a wide array of desserts replaced the dinner items. At the program’s conclusion, Baha’is and guests from all over southwest Washington stayed a while longer to connect with longtime friends and to reflect on the life of Baha’u’llah, whose teachings have changed and enhanced so many lives.