Serene’s Blog: Bahá’í Pilgrimage

I recently went on my first Bahá’í pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Israel, and it was a very meaningful experience for me. So many things happened. We had an awesome time praying, going to different holy places, socializing with our other pilgrim friends, and eating great food. 

The most special thing for me was to prostrate there, which means to kneel down in reverence with my forehead on the threshold of a shrine. At the Shrine of the Báb, I would go to each of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s and the Báb’s rooms to pray every day, sometimes even at night when the dome of the Shrine was lit up. The smell of the roses and jasmine flowers was beautiful. It was very spiritual.

 

 

We would also go to the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh with our guide. My family and I were in the Persian speaking group. I thought that I should be in this group because I speak Persian and wanted my whole family to be together in one group—my grandmother was also in the Persian group with us, and if I had gone into the English group, we would have been separated. My grandmother had also told me a few of the stories that were told in our group, so it was a bit easier for me to follow along. The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh felt cozier than the Shrine of the Báb. The room was smaller and had an indoor garden in the middle of the room with a glass ceiling in the center. Our guide chanted a beautiful prayer in Persian, and then we were free to pray as much as we pleased. It was powerful being in the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.

The weather was nice there. In the mornings it was warm and windy. In the afternoons it was hot and sunny, and in the evenings it was a little chilly, and there would be a peaceful breeze coming every now and then.

The places I liked most were the International Archives building and the gardens in Bahjí. I saw many, many interesting things in the Archives building. Even some strands of Baha’u’llah’s hair. It was very cool to be seeing those things from long ago. Actually, when I come to think of it, it’s actually not that long ago, just maybe a few years before our grandparents and great-grandparents were alive. In fact, my grandma’s great-grandfather received some tablets (letters) from Bahá’u’lláh in the late 1800s, and we have one of them framed in my home. It is beautiful.

The garden of Bahjí around the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh was beautiful, and so was the garden of Ridván. We would sit on the bright blue benches and say prayers. Then our guide would tell us all about the place and the interesting things there. There were a few pots of plants in the place where Bahá’u’lláh would once sit. The plants made it so nobody could sit in that place. But we could sit next to it on a different bench!

‘Akká was different. We were in the prison city where Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned for 40 years. I could not believe it! It was sad, but also interesting. I felt Bahá’u’lláh had done so much for all of us, and they had imprisoned Him anyway. I feel we should always strive to become better every day and always think how many hardships Bahá’u’lláh had and try to not become angry or frustrated with our own difficulties. It was cool to see how people would live there and do their daily chores and work there. We would hear the chanting of prayers from the mosques, with the sound rising up and spreading throughout the whole town. It was very different from Haifa.

In the evenings, there would be talks given by either the members of the Universal House of Justice or the International Teaching Center. The Universal House of Justice was created by Bahá’u’lláh, so that after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, we would know where to turn for guidance; the Universal House is now the head of the Bahá’í Faith. The International Teaching Center assists the Universal House of Justice with the development of the Bahá’í Faith and service of humanity. They also help us make decisions and consult with us about our daily lives. The talks were very nice and meaningful. There would also be prayers said in the beginning. During one of the evening programs, my sister and I both chanted a prayer to begin the meeting. It was cool.

The last day of our pilgrimage came soon. We started the evening by saying prayers at the Shrine of the Báb. A member of The Universal House of Justice came to recite the prayer that is said in the Shrines of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I had a more powerful feeling on the last day as I knelt down at the resting places in both rooms. I don’t know why.

I had a wonderful, meaningful, interesting, and fun time in Haifa. And I am looking forward to going there for a year of service when I am older. 

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