Bahai News - Reception Center opens for Baha'i pilgrims to the Holy Land
Reception Center opens for Baha'i pilgrims to the Holy Land
HAIFA, Israel, 18 September 2000 (BWNS) -- A new Pilgrim Reception Centre
has opened here to receive Baha'i pilgrims and visitors to the Baha'i holy
places in Haifa and Acre and the Faith's world administrative headquarters
on Mount Carmel.
Every two weeks from October through July, about 150 Baha'is arrive in
Haifa to participate in the nine-day pilgrimage program. Pilgrims pray and
meditate at the resting-places of the Founders of the Faith and visit other
sites associated with Their lives. Baha'is around the world consider
pilgrimage to the Baha'i Holy Places a sacred obligation, which they strive
to fulfil at least once in their lives.
The Pilgrim Reception Centre is located near the Shrine of the Bab, the
resting-place of the Herald of the Faith, and opposite the Monument Gardens,
where members of the family of Baha'u'llah are interred. The Centre is
housed in two historic buildings that formerly served as a clinic. The
larger one was built during the time of the British Mandate and the smaller
structure has a more Middle Eastern appearance, with patterned ceramic
floors and stone arches.
Remodeling of these buildings began in July 1998. The exteriors were
restored and the interiors were completely remodeled to create large,
functional spaces. A pedestrian walkway was built to connect the two
buildings into one complex with a total floor area of 1,069 square
meters. The complex contains a reception lounge, kitchen and dining
facilities, and an auditorium with seating capacity for more than 300
and booths for translators.
The first Baha'i Pilgrim House in Haifa was built near the Shrine of the
Bab by a Persian believer in 1909 and continued to serve as the primary
gathering place for pilgrims until the new facility was completed. The
Founder of the Faith, Baha'u'llah, was banished to Acre, then a prison
city under Ottoman rule, in 1868 and lived in the vicinity of Acre until
He passed away in 1892. He visited Haifa on several occasions and ordained
that the spiritual and administrative centers of the Baha'i Faith be
established on Mount Carmel. He also indicated the precise spot on Mount
Carmel where the remains of the Bab should be interred.
©Copyright 2000, Baha'i World News Service
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