Bahai News - Seeing Mount Carmel terraces for the first time, Baha'is feel as if they are in "paradise"
Seeing Mount Carmel terraces for the first time, Baha'is feel as if they
are in "paradise"
HAIFA, Israel, 20 May 2001 (BWNS) -- Like so many others among the some
3,000 Baha'is arriving here today and seeing for the first time a series of
magnificent gardened terraces on Mount Carmel, Salomeea Romanescu of Romania
could only compare her experience to visiting "paradise on earth." "The
sound of the water is like a divine song," said the 37-year-old educator
from Bucharest. "Combined with the smell of the flowers and the harmony of
the colors, all these sensations, they give you a feeling of plentitude and
"I was wanting all my life to feel such a feeling of peace and harmony and I
am very happy now to be able to come here and experience it," she added.
Arriving today for a week-long program of activities in celebration of the
inauguration of the terraces were Baha'i delegations representing more than
180 countries. They came with high hopes and great expectations, eager to
get a look at a project that, over the last ten years and at a cost of some
$250 million, has virtually reshaped Mount Carmel.
"It has been my dream to come here, and now my dreams have come true," said
Jaipal Bali Singh, a 42-year-old businessman from Srinagar, Kashmir, India,
who has been a Baha'i since 1986. "For me, this is the holiest place on
Indeed, Mount Carmel, which is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims, also
looms large in Baha'i history and prophetic expectations. Baha'u'llah, the
Faith's Founder, chose Mount Carmel as the site of the spiritual and
administrative center of His cause in the 1890s when He was a prisoner here
of the Ottoman Empire and the mountain slope was covered with little more
than rocks and shrubs. He prophesied much greatness for Mount Carmel in the
Now, the fact that such extraordinary gardens, as well as two majestic new
administrative buildings, have arisen from those humble beginnings is a
source of great pride to Baha'is, who raised the funds for their completion
entirely from among themselves.
"When I arrived, I came here directly from the bus and tears just came to my
eyes because of the beauty and spirituality of these terraces," said
Jean-Marie Nau, a delegate from Luxembourg. "This is a fulfillment of the
prophecies of our Faith, that these structures would be built here."
The celebration of the completion of these projects begins on Monday with a
devotional visit by the 3,000 Baha'is assembled here to the resting place
of Baha'u'llah, at Bahji, located across Haifa Bay in the city of Acre.
n Tuesday, 22 May, the delegates will assemble for a concert at the base
of Mount Carmel to officially inaugurate the terraces, which extend nearly
one kilometer up the mountainside. The concert will feature the premier of
two orchestral works composed especially for the occasion. Hundreds of Baha'i
communities in other countries are expected to watch the concert and inaugural
ceremony through a live satellite feed and Webcast.
On Wednesday, the 3000 delegates will ascend the mountain as a group, climbing
the stairs towards the Shrine of the Bab, which is the focus of the terraces
and the second-most holy place to Baha'is after Bahji.
On Thursday and Friday, further cultural, informational and devotional
programs will be held on Mount Carmel and at the nearby Haifa Convention
"Over the course of the next few days, the Baha'is gathered here from
around the world will celebrate what we feel is a significant
achievement in the creation of these terraces," said Douglas
Samimi-Moore, Program Coordinator for the inaugural events. "One of the
themes to the overall program will be a look back at the growth and
development of the Baha'i Faith in the 20th century -- and a look ahead
at the future.
"The people gathered here represent the kind of world we are working for
as Baha'is, a unified community of people from every nation, religion,
race, ethnic group and culture," said Mr. Samimi-Moore. "And they are
people, by and large, who have been working towards this goal, whether
in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe or other regions of the world."
Many of the participants arriving today indeed felt that the diversity
of the gathering itself is very much a fulfillment of Baha'u'llah's
vision for humanity.
"To meet so many brothers and sisters, from different countries,
speaking different languages, it brings me great happiness," said
Claudio Limachi, a member of the Quechua people who is part of the
delegation from Bolivia. "I feel like I am next to God, with people of
different colors, from different places, and that we are flowers of one
Peter Wathum Onega, a 48-year-old farmer from a remote village in
northwestern Uganda, also said that the combination of beautiful gardens
and diverse people was his idea of heaven.
"When you see this place, you see that peace can come in the world,"
said Mr. Onega. "The beauty here, it can bring people together. It is,
like the Bible says, the Kingdom of God on earth."
©Copyright 2001, Baha'i World News Service
Page last updated/revised 052101
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