Bicentenary stories: Brandon, Manitoba

Posted: 2018/01/09

Kira Toth plays the role of Queen Maria of Romania alongside Ayla Zehtab acting as Martha Root as they present historical figures touched by the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh to a large crowd in Brandon, Man. Photo: Gol Roberts

Twenty Bahá’ís from Brandon, Man., worked as a team to bring together 100 members of the wider community to celebrate the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh – learning what focused efforts can accomplish.

Opening up their holy day celebration to the public has shown the Bahá’í community of Brandon that a small number of people can achieve a great deal.

The city of Brandon has 48,000 inhabitants, approximately 20 of whom are Bahá’ís. For the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the community decided to hold a public event, and invite “a wide cross-section of society” with the goal of conveying “a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose above the horizon of the world.”[1]

Together they distributed 750 invitations and hung 200 flyers throughout the city. They placed four large banners in key locations, including at the local Greyhound bus station. They also advertised the event in the local newspaper.

The residents of Brandon responded: 100 members from the wider community joined the celebration, including their Member of Parliament, two Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Chief of Pine Creek First Nation.

Held in the city’s concert hall, the program included music, a presentation on the Bahá’í Faith and dramatic performances illustrating the influence of Bahá’u’lláh on those He came in contact with throughout His life, from fellow prisoners in the Síyáh Chál to Professor Edward Browne.

Guests commented on the quality of the celebration, shared their appreciation for the opportunity to learn more about Bahá’u’lláh and expressed their amazement that this small Bahá’í community could organize such an event.

Emboldened by the success of their efforts, follow-up activities were immediately planned to carve an inviting path for newfound friends to join the community-building process. Potluck dinners have been arranged so that all who participated can get to know each other better. One parent said that she would like her daughter to attend children’s classes and has offered to invite other children to join them. Additionally, a prominent member of the First Nations community has expressed an interest in collaborating with the Bahá’ís to work with youth in the community.

– Ali Razzaghi

[1] Department of the Secretariat, The Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 18 May 2016.