Ground was broken today for the first local Baha’i House of Worship in India – an edifice from which will emanate the spirit of worship and service that has been fostered over decades in the local area, known as Bihar Sharif.
The groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction of this edifice, which is among the seven Baha’i temples announced in 2012.
The ceremony brought together local dignitaries, representatives of the Baha’i community and residents of the area. The occasion began with prayers and deep prajwalan – the Indian custom of lighting a lamp to signify the attainment of knowledge, purity, and connection with the divine. Children and youth played a special role in the program, contributing to the devotional atmosphere through songs and musical drama.
In his comments at the ceremony, Amod Kumar, the head of the Panchayat (a local civic body) of Hargawan, Bihar Sharif, spoke about his hopes for the temple. “Today our society is divided by caste, religion, and generation. The Baha’i teachings have contributed to unifying people here, especially children and young people participating in the Baha’i community’s moral education programs. Now this area has received the House of Worship as a divine gift, and it is hoped that the community here will benefit from this gift and continue to achieve progress and prosperity.”
Naznene Rowhani, Secretary of the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly of India said, “Unity and harmony in our diverse society has been expressed through India’s proud Vedic tradition of vasudhaiva kutumbakam – the world is one family. … [The temple] will be a shining symbol of vasudhaiva kutumbakam in action – where everybody, regardless of community, caste, colour or creed will be welcome to commune with their Creator. This tradition is affirmed and manifested in Baha’u’llah’s words ‘Regard ye not one other as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch. So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.’”
The groundbreaking ceremony culminated with the placing of soil collected from villages across the state of Bihar at the temple site. This gesture was evocative of the connection between the thousands of residents of these villages and the House of Worship.
“When hundreds of people – young and old, women and men, farmers, laborers, students, doctors, businessmen – eventually gather together daily in the House of Worship and turn to the Almighty, this further strengthen the bonds of unity that have formed in this community,” said Rahul Kumar, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Asia.
In her remarks at the ceremony, Ms. Rowhani explained how the Temple will belong to all people of Bihar Sharif. “It is the fervent hope of the Baha’i community of India that this beautiful edifice will be a place where humanity will enter and find harmony, peace, and spirituality.”The groundbreaking comes after the unveiling of the design for the House of Worship, which took place last April.