Gujarat Baha’i Community Celebrating Fourth Consecutive Year of Self-sufficiency

Some one hundred and thirty believers from all over the State gathered together during the 9th Gujarat Baha’i Fund conference from 5-6 May 2018 at Ahwa Baha’i Bhavan. The main theme of the conference was ‘The Spiritual Dimensions of the Baha’i Fund’. This was also an occasion to celebrate the achievement of the fourth consecutive year of the total financial self-sufficiency including the expenses of the Training Institute Board and eighth year of the self-sufficiency in relation to the Council expenses. This self-sufficiency is a sign of how the Faith of Baha’u’llah is deeply rooted in the hearts of the believers and their willingness to offer a share from their material wealth for the Cause. Sense of ownership, devotion and dedication to serve the Cause of Baha’u’llah was visible during the conference.

This spiritual conference begun with a session on ‘Firmness in the Covenant and Spiritual Health’ by Mr. Saifudin Anis soon after the prayers that helped the souls to prepare spiritually for the next two days. He said that God’s Plan is perfect and He sends His Messengers to guide the Mankind in every Age, who become the source of both spiritual and material progress in the world. As per the spiritual covenant God expects certain kinds of conduct from Man and He assures him/her His blessings in return. Every Manifestation also establishes covenant with His followers. As per the greater covenant they must recognize the Manifestation who would come after Him. If the Mankind would have fulfilled this covenant the wars between Religions would not have occurred. In the same manner if the followers would have obeyed the lesser covenant that clarifies to whom the followers should turn after His accession, the Religions would not have divided into the sects. He discussed that in the Baha’i Faith both the aspects of the covenant are explicit and clear. Baha’u’llah appointed Abdul’-Baha as the Centre of covenant and Abdul’-Baha appointed Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause, and today the Centre of Covenant is the Universal House of Justice. And because of the clarity and power of the Covenant the Faith is undivided after 175 years and the provisions of the Covenant leaves no room for any kinds of division. Today the Centre of the Covenant, the Universal House of Justice is guiding the Baha’i world. Because of the continuous flow of guidance the Baha’i World is moving towards building World Civilization envisaged by Baha’u’llah, that is prosperous both spiritually and materially. He also discussed about the importance of obligatory prayer, reading the Holy Writings every morning and evening, Fasting, no backbiting, etc. for the spiritual health of an Individual.

This was followed by a presentation on ‘Devotional Gatherings and the Community Building Process’ by Mr. Avinash Pawar. He discussed about the importance of prayer for the spiritual life of an Individual and the attitude required. The focused of his presentation was on the importance of collective worship in the communities and how these Devotional Gatherings are contributing towards bringing Unity in the community. People from different backgrounds come together to commune with One True God in unity leaving behind their all kinds of differences. He discussed that we must try to improve the quality of Devotionals and work hard to accompany the seekers in study of the creative word, that can help them to become the active supporters in  community building process and eventually assist them to draw closer to Baha’u’llah. He also discussed about importance of preparations, such as selection of Prayers and Readings, Invitation, Venue, etc. for improving the quality of Devotionals.

After some songs and games the afternoon session was started with a presentation on ‘Spiritual Dimensions of the Baha’i Fund’ by treasurer of the Council, Mr. Rajesh Ahire. During this session it was discussed that, as Baha’u’llah says ‘To give and to be generous are the attributes of Mine…” So, these are the qualities of every soul and every individual must try to develop these qualities though regular and sacrificial contributions and service to the Cause and Humanity in other capacities. Only the believers are privileged to contribute their material wealth for the Cause and this act leads towards development of spiritual qualities. He on behalf of the Council congratulated each and every Individual believer in the State for achievement of maintaining self-sufficiency for last several years and invited the believers to give their pledges towards the National Fund, their planning to contribute a share from their material wealth for the next one year. This occasion provides the Individual an opportunity to plan for their contributions they wish to offer during a year. It was heartening to see how believers were eagerly waiting to give their pledges. The sense of ownership and love towards Baha’u’llah and eagerness to support His Cause was explicitly visible. Pledges for Rs. 15, 54,260/ was received from 118 believers towards National Fund, and the Council is confident in receiving more pledges from the friends. This was followed by some open session conducted by youths- Mona, Ganesh and Shivaram. They prepared some questions to lead the discussion that helped the friends to clarify some of their doubts and strengthen their understanding about the Baha’i Fund.

Mrs. Swati Chinubhai enlighten the friends with her presentation on ‘Basic Requirements of Baha’i Life’. She stressed upon applying the teachings of the Faith into daily Life and some other qualities like, Love, and how to draw love from the company of others like the sunflowers drawing energy from each other in absence of the sun. It was not scheduled but the friends did have an opportunity to study the Ridvan Message 2018. Mr. Saifudin Anis assisted the friends in study of the Message together and gain Insights about the achievements of the Baha’i community, and its capacities developed. The Message helped the friends to remember the goals of the current 5 year plan of the Gujarat Baha’i Community.

Day 2 was started with Devotional program which helped in generating a spiritual atmosphere in the very beginning of the session. This was followed by a presentation on ‘Introduction to the Laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas’ by Dr. Chetan Parikh. He helped the friends to strengthen their understanding about the laws and teachings such as, obligatory prayer, reading the Holy Writings every morning and evening, fasting, 95 times repetition of the Most Great Name, Law of Marriage, and other teachings through interaction. After that Mr. Asif Khan’s presentation on ‘Three Months Cycle of Activity’ helped the friends the discuss how the Baha’i World is trying to establish a pattern of three months cycles in building vibrant communities as an effort towards building of a New Civilization envisaged by Baha’u’llah. The three months cycle is helping the communities to systematically plan, implement and reflect to achieve their goals. During the expansion period the Baha’i communities carry out the activities that helps them to expand the circle of interest and establish meaningful conversation with seekers and invite them to participate in the Core Activities. And during consolidation period they initiate systematic efforts to assist them to draw closer to Baha’u’llah in order that through the study of creative words they may draw inspiration from the Words of God and raise their capacities to take charge of their own spiritual development and contribute in building communities. Mr. Jayesh Bhoya and Mr. Vijay Gavit’s presentation on ‘19 Day Feast and Holy Day Celebrations’ helped the friends to discuss in detail its role in bringing unity in the community, importance of inviting and encouraging each and every believer to participate, the Role of Local Spiritual Assembly, and preparations required to make these occasions more effective, especially how the 19 Day Feast can help the believers to get themselves charged spiritually once in every 19 days, the Local Spiritual Assembly can make every effort to organize these gatherings in such a manner that it can spiritually recharge the believers once in every nineteen days and they would wait for the next gathering.

After that Mr. Prashant Chinubhai through his presentation on ‘Baha’i Fund and Spiritual Life’ provided an opportunity to discuss about the spiritual principles and concepts of the Baha’i Fund and how it can assist individual believers to develop their spiritual qualities. He gave some examples of how the early believer sacrificed their lives for the Cause and support the Baha’i Fund. He said that the Baha’i Fund is a key to prosperity and the Gujarat Baha’i Community is experiencing its prosperity through sacrificial and regular contributions. The community and the Individual believers are increasingly becoming prosperous in all walks of life. Then Mr. Saifudin Anis discussed about the Law of Huququllah. Through this law the Individual can purify his/her material wealth and develop spiritual qualities. When the savings of a believer equals the value of 19 Mithquals he/she becomes entitle for paying Huququllah and it must be paid voluntarily. He said that many of the friends not entitle to pay Huququllah are also paying their Huquq as a token love to Baha’u’llah.

Mr. Vasant Bagul’s presentation on ‘Movement of a population towards Vision of Baha’u’llah provided an opportunity to reflect upon the Individual and Collective capacities developed which is required to assist the people to be familiar about the Person of Baha’u’llah and His Mission, and systematically help them to become the active supporters in building vibrant communities. It was discussed during this session that the previous year was a period of large scale expansion, as the World wide Baha’i community used creative approaches to establish conversation with largest possible number of people about the Person of Baha’u’llah and His Mission. Gujarat Baha’i community also gain an experience of establishing conversation with the people from all walks of Life. Now is the time to assist all those who have given response to our Invitation to draw them closer to Baha’u’llah through various Core Activities and other ways convenient to them. The friends did have an opportunity to discuss about the concept of concentric circle and how every seeker and believer must be assisted to come into the inner circles regularly. The discussion on the requirement of the spiritual health of the Baha’i community gave an opportunity to reflect upon the importance of accompanying each and every believer in following the teachings and laws of the Faith. The Institutions of the Faith may always reflect to ensure that all the believers are invited and assisted to participate in the 19 Day Feast, Holy Day Celebrations, Baha’i Elections, and are systematically involved in process of community building.

This was followed by a discussion on ‘Baha’i Marriage’ initiated by Auxiliary Board Member Mr. Ratilal Gavit and Mr. Sunil Bhoye. This is one of the regular topics included during the programs conducted at the regional level and it provides an opportunity especially to the Baha’i youth to discuss about the sanctity and purity of Baha’i Marriage, and the standard set in the Holy Writings. The questions and challenges faced by the youth led to a live and meaningful interactions. During the session on ‘Baha’i Families and Baha’i Teachings’ conducted by Auxiliary Board Member Mrs. Sumitra Ahire and Mr. Kishan Bhoye the friends did have an opportunity to reflect upon the qualities and attitudes required for a Baha’i Family, and how the Core Activities organized in the home can become instrumental in strengthening Baha’i Families through service to the Cause and Humanity. All the resource persons tied to relate their presentations with the Baha’i Fund.

This memorable conference was ended with concluding remarks by Mr. Dharmesh Bhimsen. He thank all those who contributed in making this conference memorable and successful. The friends left with new understanding, insights and inspiration to serve the Cause by actively supporting the activities of the ‘community building processes’, and especially to contribute regularly and sacrificially to build a new World Civilization envisioned by Baha’u’llah.

The Council is always mindful of the requirement of facilitating the flow of conversation establish at the regional level to cluster and local level, they have planned Fund Yatras accordingly. As per the plan the members of the Council in collaboration with the Auxiliary Board Members will organize gatherings at the cluster and community level, and try to assist the believers to have an interaction about the Baha’i Fund. The Council’s sole aim is to educate every believer in the State so that no soul is deprived of their spiritual privilege of contributing towards Baha’i Fund.

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