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Bahá’í’s of Irving celebrate 200th anniversary

The Bahá’í community of Irving celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Bahá’í faith, Bahá’u’lláh on Sunday, Oct. 22. The Bahá’í faith is a universal religion that believes in the elimination of prejudice and equality for men and women.

“We wanted to have this celebration to honor him for giving us his teachings and two centuries of light,” said Mahrooz Maddela, public information officer for the Bahá’í’s of Irving. “We wanted to emblazon his name, to gather our friends together and bring more awareness of what we’re doing in regards to community building because it is one of the most important aspects of the Bahá’í faith.”

The festivities began with a unity prayer said in both English and Spanish, followed by a performance by the choral group. The children’s classes performed three songs and finished their performance with “We Are One,” with the help of members from the Irving Heritage Senior Center.

“We wanted an uplifting program to be both spiritual and at the same time happy,” said Maha Shahidi, member of the Bahá’í community. “We wanted people to understand more about Bahá’u’lláh and celebrate him in a dignified and uplifting way. I was so happy to have members of the Irving Heritage Center support us on stage, because it was such a diverse group of different ages, backgrounds, religions, and colors singing a song I felt was very appropriate for the event. We are all one at the end, and although we look different, we are all the same.”

Mayor Rick Stopfer followed the choral group to present the Mayoral Proclamation marking Oct. 22 as the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh Day. The festivities continued with the Bahá’í Youth presenting writings of Bahá’u’lláh, a performance by Diana Rohrback of “One God,” and the program concluded with a showing of the short film, “Light to the World,” which offered a glimpse of Bahá’u’lláh’s life and teachings around the world.

Vice chairman of the local spiritual assembly of the Bahá’í’s of Irving, Dr. Rolando Maddela, was impressed with the task force that organized the program. 

“I found the program to be really magnificent, because it brought together so many people of different races and backgrounds together in the spirit of unity,” Dr. Maddela said. “Everybody came together to celebrate one great being, Bahá’u’lláh.”

The program was followed by a dinner buffet and a performance by the New Era Mariachi band. During dinner, attendees had the chance to see the community tables showcasing all the teachings, literature, and activities the Bahá’í’s organize in Irving as well as all over the country.

“We wanted to show how we are contributing to our city,” Shahidi said. “We have something for everybody and wanted people from different faiths to see we can come together in a spirit of love and unity, because we’re all brothers and sisters at the end.”

The Irving Bahá’í Center offers community building activities throughout Irving and the Dallas/Fort Worth area to unite communities together. They provide virtues classes to teach children about spiritual foundations of all faiths, junior youth groups, and devotionals open to people from different faiths.

“The whole purpose of the Bahá’í faith is not to change or convert anyone,” Mahrooz said. “It’s mainly to bring us all together, so we can work together in the spirit of love and fellowship and really change the world in that way.”