Bahá’ís worldwide are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of divine messenger the Báb. His birth is one of 11 holy days celebrated by Bahá’ís, a small number of whom reside in Clark County. They’re inviting the community to celebrate with them next week.
The Báb is often compared to John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet and Christian saint.
Born Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad in Shiraz, Persia (today Iran), on Oct. 20, 1819, he assumed the title the Báb as a young adult. (It means “the gate” in Arabic and is pronounced like the name Bob.) He proclaimed that he was called by God to prepare people for another messenger greater than himself, which was Bahá’u’lláh. In 1850, the Báb was executed in a public square. After decades of his remains being hidden, they were buried on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, where the Bahá’í World Centre is located.
In 2017, Bahá’ís celebrated the 200th anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth. The Báb’s birthday is a similarly festive event.
Local Bahá’ís have been inviting their family, friends and neighbors to join in Monday evening’s celebration at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver. There will be a variety of cultural dances and songs, including classical violin, along with Persian food. Afsaneh Akhtarkhavari, a member of the faith, said there will be a couple of prayers and an explanation of the Báb’s history.
“For us, it’s a big huge birthday party,” she said.
Local Bahá’ís have a center located in the Harney Heights neighborhood for events and activities but otherwise meet in people’s homes to foster a sense of community. They’re a regular presence at the Vancouver Peace and Justice Fair held annually at Esther Short Park.
The religion was born in Persia but has adherents around the world. Akhtarkhavari and her husband, Hossein Akhtarkhavari, of Camas, have lived in cities across the U.S. and have noticed that Bahá’ís here are often from one of two backgrounds; they’re either immigrants or refugees from a country where the Bahá’í faith is more commonly practiced, or they’ve converted from one of America’s more dominant religions. Many refugees fleeing religious persecution in Middle Eastern countries are Bahá’ís, the Akhtarkhavaris said.
The Bahá’í faith believes that all of the monotheistic world religions are one, sharing essentially the same message. It’s focused on peace, unity, justice and equality and is one of the youngest world religions.