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Dundee


FESTIVAL OF FAITHS BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER1

“Festival of Faiths” took place in the splendid surroundings of the Marryat Hall, Dundee, on 4th June and was attended by over 200. Part of the evening involved schoolchildren reading their “Dream of Peace”, alongside representatives of seven major religions who read passages or prayers from their respective scriptures, based around the theme of Seven Candles of Unity. Dancers from the Bharatiya Ashram performed, and added colour and spectacle to the event, before the social part of the evening, when guests were invited to mingle and partake of a delicious international buffet. The event was to commemorate the centenary of Rotary International and had been organised by the Rotary Clubs of Dundee and the Dundee Inter Faith Association (DIFA).
How did such a major event, bringing all ages, cultures, and faiths together in an atmosphere of joy and fellowship, ever succeed? A management committee was appointed comprising two Rotarians and two members of DIFA. It met regularly to discuss what form the event was to take, and feed back to the respective organisations, which in turn approved the committee’s suggestions. Responsibilities for different parts of the planning were given – the Rotarians dealt with booking a venue, funding, publicity, production of the programme, whilst the DIFA members (one of whom was Carrie Varjavandi) worked with the different faith groups to win their support, obtain excerpts from scriptures and people to participate in the programme. There were areas of overlap, for instance the joint meeting with the catering manager at the Caird Hall to discuss requirements. A decision that was made early on to base the programme on “The Seven Candles of Unity” which appears in the Scottish Inter Faith Council’s guidelines for Inclusive Civic Events, and which outlines the stages of unity through which humanity is destined to pass, and provided an appropriate framework for the programme.
From the moment Rotarian Rev Dr Jim Rogers opened the proceedings it all went beautifully, one part leading seamlessly into the next. Carrie outlined the origins of the Seven Candles of Unity and read a passage from the letter to Mrs Jane Elizabeth Whyte from Abdu’l-Bahá. This was followed by a brief background to the Dreams of Peace competition, and pupils and teachers were asked to come forward to receive their certificates. In addition to the winners, smaller certificates had been produced for each child who took part, and a certificate for participating schools. Dr Maureen Sier of the Scottish Inter Faith Council was able to present a certificate to the pupil whose work had been chosen as the design for the SIFC’s card.
For those who were there, it was an unforgettable occasion, bringing together a host of people who would otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet. It will have planted seeds that will germinate in many wonderful ways in the coming months and years, serving as a foundation for future community building in the area.
Carrie Varjavandi
1 A fuller description, including how the event was organised, and of the event itself, may be found on our Website at http://www.breacais.demon.co.uk/sbn/sbn41/ or may be requested from the editor (contact details on page 33).

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Edinburgh

From The Edinburgh Bahá’í

Hiroshima Commemorations*

With the Anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Brian Cooper arranged a service of peace to mark the occasion at the Theosophical Society, 28 Great King Street (where Abdu’l-Bahá also gave an address). Moving contributions to the service were sent in by Bahá’ís in Japan, and were read and made available.
Isomi Kondo (Nagasaki, Japan) — I was three years old when the bomb in Nagasaki was dropped. My mother and father, brother and sister were all killed on that day. Even though I was injured, and have lived my life without one of my hands, I was the only one to survive. My message to this assemblage is this.
“Every day I say the Prayers for Peace, that the world will change and love will replace hate, and peace will replace war. That the world will become one county as the Great Messengers of God have promised. And the terror that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never happen again.
“God grant that the light of unity may envelop the whole earth, and that the seal, ‘the kingdom is God’s’, may be stamped upon the brow of all its peoples.” – Bahá’u’lláh

Seishi Hirahara (Hiroshima, Japan) — My mother saw the atomic bomb explode over Hiroshima before I was born. She was on a hill top, on an island 26 kilometres from Hiroshima, and saw a bright flashing light that she thought was children flashing a mirror in her eyes. I have known many people who lost their most precious friends and family on that terrible day. One of my close friends was in the middle of Hiroshima on that fateful day, and survived. He was a government official at the time, and had gone down into the basement into the vault to get some important paper, and the bomb exploded while he was there. Everything and everyone, disappeared around him. What important mission did God have that enabled him to survive? Well, he became a Bahá’í and served the cause of World Peace and Unity until his dying breath, for some 30 years.
Hiroshima still has the scars from that terrible day, on the land, on the people and in their hearts.
As a son of Hiroshima I would like to say that we, as a people, as fellow citizens of this planet have to recognize that we are all brothers. Also no matter what religion we are, if we listen to the voice of God, we will never kill each other. If we turn away from our animal side we have the power to be heavenly and live in peace.
“Let a man glory not in this, that he loves his country, but glory in this, that he loves mankind.” – Bahá’u’lláh

*A complete description of the this event may be found on the newsletter's Website at
http://www.breacais.demon.co.uk/sbn/sbn41/ or may be requested from the editor (contact details on page 33).

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Dornoch


Double display at Dornoch show

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The Baha'i stand at the agricultural show.
Not only was there a separate display put on by Harold Lane at this year’s Sutherland Agricultural Show in Dornoch, but the Bahá’í display space was the equivalent of two normal stands, thanks to plenty of space in the corner which was allocated (we could fetch in the tables we wanted from a large pile outside the marquee).
The occasion was Saturday 23rd July and there were in effect two displays on the Bahá’í stand, one produced by Tom Mackenzie for the Inverness community, and another produced by Rolf Schmidt (from Black Isle). The Inverness display was free-standing hinged panels with A4-sized items affixed, together with a whole lot of Warwick leaflets, plus some other publications (including the new “Bahá’ís” magazine style publication – long awaited since the original 1992 New York Convention version, which has been so valuable in the form of presentation to MP’s and other dignitaries), on a trestle table. Accompanying and flanking these items were a couple of the St Mungo display panels which still retain their attracting power by being bold as well as professionally produced.
The other display had been equally professionally produced by Rolf, consisting, as it did, of an interactive row of items inviting people to have a “hands-on” experience, such as opening a curtain, lifting a heart, and opening a (prayer) book. This did have the desired effect with a fair number of people. Rolf may well be encouraged to develop his ideas for future occasions, and he may be happy to receive your suggestions, such as to possible audio effects or other forms of attraction.


Dornoch Firth

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Harold’s climate change display.
Harold Lane writes: “So far the main task has been fulfilling an aspect of the Five Year Plan, that has become a presentation at the Sutherland Agricultural Show on Saturday 23rd July of an exhibition entitled ‘PROPOSALS FOR TACKLING THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH CLIMATE CHANGE.’ The concepts for this went back to 2003, and in 2004 I visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and discussed ideas with them. I proposed a centre to be erected in the hills above Golspie, and informed Lord Strathnaver who owned the land. He appeared interested but wished me to take the scheme further by preparing a marketing proposal. This was too costly an exercise to undertake, so I got to work on a scheme for the exhibition based on an imaginary site in Sutherland in a similar elevated location. I decided to extend the project from an exhibition of what must be achieved in growing crops under severe conditions to one where research should be undertaken both from the centre and from further afield.
Recognising the nature of abrupt climate change this century through continual work and discussion with scientists, I extended the programme from food production in Sutherland to that of the Pan-Arctic. This was then presented at the show as ‘an-ideas-inprogress’ scenario. A great deal of time was taken up reading and in research not only into the phenomenon of climate change itself but into suitable farming practices, the growing of crops under cover, the use of fine gravel dust as a fertilizer, the building of communities with new technologies, and transport proposals.