Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bahá’í Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel

In early June I had the bounty of traveling to Haifa, Israel for a pilgrimage for the Bahá’í Faith. When we are on pilgrimage, we travel to sites associated with the history of the Faith, we see the buildings which house the administrative order, and most importantly, we visit the shrines which are the final resting places of the Central Figures of the Faith. Pilgrimage is a very personal and individualized experience characterized by devotion and reverence. I will try to capture some of the major highlights here, but if you'd like more information about Bahá’í Pilgrimage or the Bahá’í Faith in general please see these sites here: International Bahá’í Website , US Bahá’í Website , Bahá’í Pilgrimage Site.

Beautiful terraces and gardens surround the Shrine of the Báb which is the final resting place of the Báb (Forerunner of the Baha'i Faith) and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Son of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith).

Gardens surrounding the Shrine

Happy to be on Pilgrimage

Terraces leading down to the Shrine of the Báb. The Shrine is currently undergoing restoration. You may have seen photos of the beautiful golden domed structure, which here is covered while under construction.

Eagle overlooking the terraces. There are many statues of eagles on these sites.

Roses trellis in the gardens

One of the terraces

Visiting with fellow pilgrims Alexander, Dave, Nomi, Wei Jun, myself, and Susan

A view of the seat of the Universal House of Justice which oversees the administrative affairs of the Faith and gives guidance to the community.

In addition to the Shrines and administrative buildings, we also visited many of sites associated with the history of the Faith. Bahá’u’lláh (Prophet Founder of the Faith) and His family were exiled to Palestine in 1868. He remained there until His passing in 1892. This is the courtyard of the House of ‘Abbúd in which Bahá’u’lláh and His family lived and some important scriptures of the Faith were revealed.

Outside of the House of ‘Abbúd

This is the prison in ‘Akká to which Bahá’u’lláh was exiled in 1868. We visited the actual cell in which He was confined.

Looking across the bay towards ‘Akká.

Gardens outside the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.

This is the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, the Qiblih, the Point of Adoration to which all Bahá’ís turn in prayer.

Door leading to the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

Gardens surrounding the Shrine

Friends Mark, Danielle, Richelle and Ding-Jo

Outside the Bahjí Pilgrim House

The Mansion of Mazra‘ih where Bahá’u’lláh lived as gradually the conditions of His imprisonment were relaxed. Bahá’u’lláh loved the countryside, and has said "The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies".

More gardens surrounding the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.

Upper porch of the Mansion of Bahjí, adjoining the Shrine, which was the final residence of Bahá’u’lláh.

On the porch of the Mansion of Bahjí

View of Mansion of Bahjí

A wonderful variety of beautiful flowers are in the gardens.

A gate at Bahjí

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice on Mount Carmel. The Universal House of Justice, a council of nine elected members, is the administrative and spiritual authority in the Bahá’í Faith.

The International Archives Building which houses important artifacts associated with the Founders of the Bahá’í Faith .

The Centre for the Study of the Texts which houses the research departments.

Fountain on a terrace surrounding the Shrine of the Báb. I walked the lower terraces with Ton and Susan and Wei Jun.

Wei Jun and Susan and myself

The terraces are beautifully lit at night. Here is a view of the upper terraces.

Upper terraces at night and city of Haifa

Looking down the terraces

Final resting place of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, a personal hero of mine

A fountain on the terraces lit up at dusk

House of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá which was a residence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Son of the Founder of the Faith and Center of the Covenant)

My pilgrimage group. We had about 250 pilgrims during the nine days, and we were divided into smaller groups of about 40 or so. This is my smaller group.

Shrine of Mírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, son of Bahá’u’lláh, and Navváb, wife of Bahá’u’lláh

Shrine of Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, daughter of Bahá’u’lláh

Last day, so hard to say goodbye. I am here with Danielle, Mark, Richelle, Ton, Susan, Wei Jun, Martha (our guide), and Ding-Jo.

Here I am with good friends Susan and Diana.

Before I left Israel I spent a day in Tel Aviv. I walked to Old Jaffa and shopped in the markets there and then walked the beautiful Mediterranean beach.

Pilgrimage was a wonderful experience, difficult to capture in words, and full of meaning which may take a lifetime to absorb. Learning about the history of the Faith and walking where Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá lived, were imprisoned, raised families, received visitors, served the communities, and revealed Scriptures deepened my knowledge and connection to Them. Praying in the Shrines is an experience which all Bahá’ís treasure for a lifetime. Meeting the members of the Universal House of Justice and seeing the Seat of the Administrative Order connected me to the lifeline of the Bahá’í Faith. We heard illuminating talks in the evenings which gave us a fuller understanding of the mission and vision of the Bahá’í Faith of a unified society where all people are one interconnected family where justice is the ruling principle of social organization. I am looking forward to helping in some small way, along with my community, to create that unified world.

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7 Comments:

At 7:22 AM, Blogger praVeen said...

Pilgrimage is a turning point in life, nice pictures.

Praveen
Bangalore.

 
At 7:00 PM, Blogger Roger said...

Wonderful pictures, wonderful story. It reminded me of my own pilgrimage In December 2007.

 
At 9:29 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Thanks Praveen, yes, pilgrimage is a turning point. I'm sure I'll experience that more as time goes on. Thanks Roger, glad you had a nice pilgrimage in 2007.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger Racn4acure said...

What a fascinating and amazing trip for you, Anne, and what beautiful photos. I really enjoyed hearing about this and sharing your experience through your wonderful photos. It sounds like the experience meant the world for you. Art

 
At 9:42 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Hi Art, Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos! Yes, it was a very beautiful and meaningful experience for me!
Anne

 
At 8:47 AM, Blogger Racn4acure said...

Hey again! I am sharing this with a co-worker who is of your faith and who is going to Haifa in about a month. She is an Iranian exile and she and her family suffered horrific persecution in their native land because of their faith. Art

PS: I will have to go there myself someday, I was born on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and always thought it would be cool to see where that was!

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Hi Art, Wonderful! I hope she has a fantastic time and that she finds it very meaningful. I am honored that you shared this with her.
Yes, I know what you mean, I was hoping to see Bethlehem in the Holy Land because I was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but, unfortunately, it's in an area that we are advised not to travel in!

 

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