Sammamish Baha’i invites all faiths to share in World Religion Day event

January 12, 2009

By Ari Cetron

Considering what’s happening in Gaza, the idea that different religions can exist in harmony might be a tough sell, but that’s one of the main reasons that the Baha’i are sponsoring World Religion Day.

“Religion should be the cause of love and agreement,” said Nooshin Darvish, a Sammamish resident and follower of Baha’i.

World Religion Day was started by the American branch of the Baha’i faith in 1950. Since then, practitioners from around the world have adopted it, Darvish said.

The original idea, and the one which continues today, is to bring together people of different faiths and allow them to explain their religions to each other.

This marks the second year that followers of Baha’i in Sammamish have sponsored such a gathering.

Last year’s event, Darvish said, was successful in that it gave people from different religions a chance to learn about each other’s faith.

“They learned things from each other they probably wouldn’t have at any other time,” she said.

The gathering starts with members of each religion — the Baha’i have invited 16 to this year’s event — offering a prayer, reading or some sort of other representation of their faith.

“Something that signifies the beauty of their religion,” Darvish said.

Afterward, participants will have a chance to enjoy refreshments and talk. The hope is that people of different faiths can talk about their religions with each other. Since that’s the point of the gathering, they can do so without fear that they might be pushing their faith on other people.

“It’s just a time to get to know each other,” Darvish said.

The idea behind World Religion Day is in keeping with some of the basic tenets of the Baha’i faith, Darvish said. Baha’i believe there is actually only one religion, and that prophets (such as Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and others) appear in the time and place they are needed most.

“They come at various eras to teach what the needs of that era are,” Darvish said.

In 1863, a man named Baha’u’allah appeared and declared himself a manifestation of God. Baha’i believe he is simply the most recent in the line of prophets, and that there are others yet to come.

This belief does not mean that the Baha’i intend to try converting others. They stress that individuals have free choice in selecting their religious expression.

“The idea is not sameness,” Darvish said. “The idea is to harmonize.” 

 

If you go

World Religion Day

2-4 p.m. Jan. 18

Lodge at Beaver Lake

25101 S.E. 24th St., Sammamish

 

Reach Reporter Ari Cetron at 392-6434, ext. 233, or samrev@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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