Some creative ideas for celebrating the Bicentenary celebrations!
These Reflections of Growth issues (#37 & #38) share accounts of the preparations under way to mark the bicentenary anniversaries of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh and the Birth of the Báb.
Please feel free to refer to these documents!
Ideas below are credited to: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
- Twin Anniversaries: A Celebration of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh (Lots of creative ideas and resources here!)
- Invite friends to your home to watch a video about Bahá’u’lláh in honor of His 200th birthday.
- The Baha’is in another community decided to schedule a spiritual movie series with a movie, pot luck dinner and conversation every two months. The first one will be the film about the relationship between Abdu’l-Baha’ and Louis Gregory in August, followed by the film about Baha’u’llah in October.
- Invite the public to an outdoor venue and along with other programs either: 1) Release 200 small, lighted and biodegradable hot air lanterns, or 2) release 9 doves, or 3) release butterflies.
- A Baha’i from Dubai share that at last year’s Twin Birthday celebration each guest was given a small lantern as a gift with a quote on light and unity by Baha’u’llah attached to it.
- We have just arranged with our local senior center to show the new film about Baha’u’llah after the lunch program on a Thursday. We have several local Baha’i seniors who use this center, so it will be great for them to invite their friends to watch the movie during the day. There is no cost to use the room, either.
- We are also hosting a “Race for Unity” Family Fun Walk/Run, which is a public event. The hope is to provide an environment where Baha’is can bring their friends that they wish to invite to the celebration and attract like-minded people who we may not know but are in search of a better, more positive solution.
- Organizing to walk in parks wearing a T-shirt with a message.
- The Bahai community in Perth West Australia is celebrating the Bicentenary with an art exhibition at their local library.
- In one county, we’re planning an arts showcase in conjunction with our celebration. We are already inviting people and organizations in the area who might be interested to contribute creative works in the areas of visual, spoken, written, or performance arts. Our bicentenary celebration will include not only a display or performance of these arts but also remembrances of Baha’u’llah and His importance to our world.
- The Baha’is of another county have invited the ministers, pastors and other religious leaders of the local Interfaith Council, and their congregations, to join us on October 21-22 for a Prayer Vigil for World Unity that weekend. We also plan to extend the invitation to local indigenous tribal members and other groups. Each group will be allotted an hour to offer prayer, meditation, devotional song, etc.. This will be an overnight program, length to be determined by the number of respondents.
- We are showing the film from the Supreme Body on Friday October 20 and a Devotional Breakfast @10:00 AM on Sunday October 22. We also have index cards from Special Ideas with invitation to these events to give to our Friends as we engage in meaningful conversations.
- Our community is joining hands with several nearby small communities to host a reception on October 21st, which will feature displays on the Station of Baha’u’llah, and a brief program of prayers and readings, along with a couple one act plays that tell the story of His Life.
- Our tiny group (three Baha’is, nucleus of five) has set the goal of 500 Bicentenary conversations between March and the auspicious date. We reached 200 today! It’s been fabulous having the goal of 15 per week and finding opportunities that are organic and uncontrived. It’s a sublime teaching opportunity everyone should avail themselves of!
- …one of the events planned is donating two ornamental trees to the City of Fort Wayne (Indiana) Parks and Recreation. We call them the Twin Trees that will commemorate the Manifestation’s birthdays. They will be planted beside each other, one in September 2017 and one in 2019. Both will have commemorative bronze plaques to identify the special occasion. We plan to invite the mayor and public to the planting. For years to come, the community will be able to remember how the Fort Wayne Baha’i Community commemorated and honored the Bicentennial of the Twin Holy Birthdays!
- My family plans to invite our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends to an open house such as others might have for Christmas. Festive decorations, specially printed invitations with quotes about the occasion, party favors to include the Hidden Words and sweets. Timing 11am till 4 or 5, to catch the church crowd as well as avoid any possible gifts of wine or thoughts that we might serve it. Every half hour or so a brief focus on the Faith and the Twin Manifestations – prayers, stories, songs and sing-along, video, readings. Each of these to last 5-10 minutes to give both those who stay briefly and those who stay all day the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to converse about the Faith. End it all with info on Study Circles and Children’s Classes and Junior Youth groups and fire sides for those wanting more. Already have about 150 on my invitation list and my invitations designed!
- Another county is planning a “Open House” reception with short presentations and hosted display-information tables.
- Our Twin Holy Days committee has decided to host a devotional meeting featuring the Tablets of Baha’u’llah as featured in the new publication Days of Remembrance. We are hoping to build new Devotional meetings throughout our City, so that they can host celebratory devotionals during the Twin Holy Days. Also, we want to choose a Tablet or portion of a Tablet to feature and recited between now and October and to present to our community at large. But first, of course, we must study and meditate upon them.
- We have looked at a range of options that apply to our suburban community. Progressive Dinner, neighborhood picnics, Inter-faith Prayer, Carnival for kids, Formal dinner for dignitaries, artistic displays in the mold of the World Congress, artistic exhibit of the Twin Manifestations’ Lives.
- Youth grade 12 art submissions to be displayed at a gallery on bi-centennial dates with two bursaries awarded to top entries. The days’ events will also include music, readings, video and “oral description” of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
- Our “Twin Birthdays committee” put on the holy day celebration in 2016, and now we are continuing with the Bicentenary. We’re putting out flyers for all events that are open to the public this year, with the same logo and wording on the top. One of the events leading up to the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, October, 2017, and at the bottom of the page we give contact information for the committee secretary to field questions about the Bicentenary. We’re posting flyers in several other localities in order to find receptive populations. They are localities where no Baha’is reside. We are also planning for the weekend of October 20-21: many activities, such as musician jam sessions, children’s arts and crafts, and choral groups to sing at the evening programs on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- One cluster have been meeting to plan a large Bicentenary event on Saturday, October 21st from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. We have reserved a beautiful room called The Lakeview Room which holds 300 people and which also has a patio overlooking a lake, at the Rio Vista Rec Center in Peoria, AZ. Two members are writing articles in the preceding months which will be published in local newspapers over the next few months. Mayors will be invited. There will be music and a program and decorations and light food and informational pamphlets available. On Friday evening the 20th and Sunday the day of the 22nd, each individual community will be doing individual programs in their own communities.
- Local, national or international countdown (or count up?) to the Birth of Baha’ullah with daily posts of stories, quotes, historical events in the life of Baha’u’llah and of the Faith. (Maybe similar to the daily email/Twitter posts of 239 Days in America for the centennial of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to America).
- The above countdown posts could employ the range of activities in the Grade 1 children’s classes: a prayer, a song, a quote to memorize, a story, a cooperative game (or challenge or question to reflect on), a coloring sheet (or other art activity)
- Print nice cards/invitations with a quote from the Writings to hand-deliver in connection with conversations about the Bicentennial with 200 persons. Individuals willing to share their special designs might share on the resource page.
- Display 200 (short) quotes from the Writings of Baha’u’llah at a library, community center or other location with display space (yes, old technology). This could be done in a dignified artistic manner in a scroll or series of posters or artful layout.
- Children’s classes throughout a community or cluster produce 200 fish (& birds) representing/labeled with the tests and difficulties in the world that Baha’ullah’s teachings overcome. Use them in a story/skit or display for the actual celebration.
- An extra contribution per day for 200 days for the Fund as a Birthday gift for Baha’u’llah.
- Our family plans to: 1- Invite few of our friends for dinner and screening of short films about the life of Baha’u’llah. 2-Teaching a 2 hours course with my husband at the university called “faith of our forefathers”. 3- As a honoree of 2017 empower immigrant women, I have the opportunity to be on many different panels and I intentionally make sure to point out the significant of this year for me and my community. 4- As a member of interfaith group I have been talking about significant of 200 anniversary to the group. I am hoping with the help of LSA we would be able to plan a interfaith event in honor of 200 anniversary. 5-Writing to all my contacts about the significant of this year. 6- Asking my friends to mark their calendar for the 200 anniversary celebration which is happening on October 21st at the very elegant, beautiful and spacious space in Portland. 7-Sending short quote to all my friends for 200 days
- Devotional Cemetery Visits – In planning Devotional Gatherings in observance of the 200th Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, consider locating the graves of early Baha’is and coming together at a local cemetery to pray for the departed.
- We are considering sponsoring an Art Display for the Bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh celebration on October 22. People will be invited to contribute art in any media to be displayed at the event. The prompt will be “So great is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole world.” Proper attribution will be given to Bahá’u’lláh and they will know that they are producing the art to be displayed for the commemoration of His birth. They will be asked to register (so we know how much art we will need to display) and asked if they are willing to have their art displayed in the media (newspapers, newsletters, on TV, etc.). Of course all participants are invited to attend the celebration. There will be no contest and no awards given, except possibly for participation.
- Arts Exhibit on “Oneness” – Participants invited from the community at large as well as Baha’i Artists. Exhibits to be held at minimum the Friday before, and the Night of Oct. 22nd.