Baha'i News -- Small crowd turns out for Baha'i Unity Day

Small crowd turns out for Baha'i Unity Day 100 people were expected, only 2 dozen show up

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was just that nobody really knew what the event was about. Whatever the reason, there weren't quite as many people at the Baha'i Community of Lisle's downtown parade and picnic Sunday as organizers thought there would be.

Actually, they were expecting 100, and only about two dozen showed up.

"We didn't want to have a picnic for ourselves," said Cher Gupta- Fletcher of Lisle, one of the religious group's leaders. "We wanted the whole community of Lisle to come out. The Baha'i faith, I don't think, is very well recognized in the community."

Baha'i is a relatively new religion, founded in 1844, that centers around oneness in God, humanity and all religions. The parade and picnic were meant to celebrate Race Unity Day, which focuses primarily on oneness in humanity.

"Each person has enough room in their heart so they can live side by side with other people in harmony," said Roya Hosseini of Lisle. "We need to promote that and teach our children that."

Mostly, Baha'is from Lisle and a few neighboring suburbs walked behind a police escort Sunday holding colorful balloons and signs reading, "We the people - united," and "We are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch."

But there was one man, Dan Gorman of Naperville, who showed up for the peaceful parade just because he'd read about it in the newspaper and supported the group's vision.

"It seemed like a good idea, the unity of all the races and cultures," he said. "That's really important, with all the conflict and war and terrorism these days."

The Baha'i Community has been hosting its parade for five years. Leaders said the religious group has slowly been growing.

"Hopefully we're doing it for 25 and 50 years," Gupta-Fletcher said.

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