Beaveton Baha'is to Celebrate Naw Ruz

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Beaveton Baha'is to Celebrate Naw Ruz -- And You Are Invited!
Submitted by venustiano on Fri, 03/16/2012 - 14:55

 
By Venustiano Olguín
            The Beaverton Baha’i community will hold a Naw Ruz celebration at the Beaverton Baha’i Center on Tuesday, March 20 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. – and EVERYONE IS INVITED! The event will start with a short 30-minute program of music and other entertainment, which will then be followed by a celebratory potluck dinner made possible by voluntary contributions of food and refreshments by Baha’is and friends.
            The evening will hold an extra special meaning for members of the Baha’i community, not only because it marks the start of Naw Ruz, the Baha’i new year, which starts at sunset, but also because it will mark the end of the 19-day fast undertaken by Baha’is every year. As in many world religions, the fasting is used is a time for reflecting on one's spiritual progress and making an effort to detach from material desires. In the Baha’i Faith, except for those who are ill, elderly, traveling, pregnant, nursing, menstruating or engaged in heavy labor, all Baha'is from age 15 to 70, are expected to participate in the annual fast. So, from March 2-20, Baha'is worldwide rise before dawn to eat breakfast, pray; and then, abstain from eating or drinking until sunset in observation of the annual 19-day Fast.
            During the fast, Baha’is focus even more intensively than usual on Baha’u’llah’s teachings about the real purpose of our earthly lives: “Say: Rejoice not in the things ye possess; tonight they are yours, tomorrow others will possess them. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. Say: Can ye claim that what ye own is lasting or secure? Nay! By Myself, the All-Merciful, ye cannot, if ye be of them who judge fairly. The days of your life flee away as a breath of wind, and all your pomp and glory shall be folded up as were the pomp and glory of those gone before you. Reflect, O people! …Happy the days that have been consecrated to the remembrance of God, and blessed the hours which have been spent in praise of Him Who is the All-Wise.” (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 33)
Abdu'l-Baha, the son and appointed successor of Baha'u'llah, wrote that “Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases.” He described how the Prophets of God - including Moses, Jesus and Baha'u'llah - all fasted. Thus, He said, the Baha'i period of fasting allows believers to feel closer to the founders of the great religions by sharing in this experience. Additionally, Baha’is believe that the fast motivates people to teach the Faith with their fellow human beings, as well as to improve and renew their spiritual and material lives. In fact, Baha’u’llah’s teachings clearly emphasize the need to put one’s beliefs into action: “O SON OF DUST! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.” (The Hidden Words, From the Persian #5)
In addition to the personal aspects of the fast, another factor, which enriches the experience of the fast, is the knowledge that one is participating in a global spiritual action as Baha’is around the world observe the fast together! This serves a reminder of how the Baha’i Faith has become a world religion in a mere 168 years from its beginnings in what is now Iran, despite massacres and tortures at the hands of those trying to maintain the old and declining world order. Even now, the persecution of Baha’is in Iran has continued including: campaigns directly targeting Baha’is or simply turning a blind eye when they are attacked and killed; banning of Baha’i literature and schools; seizure or destruction of holy places, property and businesses; refusal to recognize Baha’i marriages; and recently a government effort to identify all Baha’is and track their movements.  Over the years, a large number of Iranian Baha’is has been forced to leave their homelands under threats of imminent imprisonment or death. But despite the persecution, the Baha’is remain steadfast in their Faith, while at the same time, the forced diaspora of Iranian Baha’is has contributed to the spread of the Faith around the world.
For Baha’is in the United States, contemplating about how they are going to promote justice in the world, the 19-Day Fast has been a good time to supporting the growing campaign to show “Education Under Fire”, a new 30-minute documentary, produced by Single Arrow Productions and co-sponsored by Amnesty International. The documentary addresses the Islamic Republic of Iran’s overall denial of the right to education for ideological and religious reasons. The film highlights the three decade long policy of denying members of its Baha’i community the right to attend any institution of higher education and profiles the growth, struggle, and inspiring spirit of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) which was formed in 1987 to give young Baha’is their only chance for a university-level education.
All in all, Naw-Ruz for Baha’is not only a celebration of individuals, but also a global spiritual celebration, as well as a call to continuing action in the building of a truly peaceful and just world global society.  So, once again, we hope you’ll join us for our celebration of Naw Ruz at the Beaverton Baha’i Center on Tuesday, March 20 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.