Baha’i Faith Plans Celebration to Mark Birth of Prophet

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(Contributed Photo)
The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Orinda formed in 1989: (L-R) Massoud Fanaieyan, Jaleh Kilpatrick, Ziba Fanaian, Thomas Kilpatrick, Shookoh Aghsani, Douglas Krotz, Jaleh Mahjor, Diana Krotz and Farhad Toloui.

    One look at major news stories brings a torrent of stress-related items. From stock market fluctuation to war in far-off countries to U.S. immigration woes, strife and intolerance permeates people’s daily lives.
    A group of Orindans, however, hopes to stress the oneness of humanity rather than its disparities this month as they join people around the world in celebrating a special birthday.
    The Baha’i Faith, which advocates the solidarity of major religions as a path toward world peace, plans a series of world-wide events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of The Báb. Known as the Prophet Herald, The Báb paved the way for the new faith and the appearance of the Divine Educator, Baha’u’llah. The Báb, which means the gate, fills a similar role as Elijah or John the Baptist in Christian religions.
    A major component of the celebrations is the film The Gate, which tells the true story of The Báb. Originally a merchant from Shiraz in Qajar, Iran, The Báb claimed in 1844 to be a messenger from God. Stressing equality of the sexes, one foundation for all religions and abolition of extremes of wealth and poverty, The Báb reinvigorated religion. Facing opposition from the Persian government, he was eventually executed along with thousands of his followers.
    “We are very excited to be celebrating this important birth here in Orinda,” says Orinda resident Massoud Fanaieyan. “We will be showing the film on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Orinda Theatre followed by a panel discussion with co-producer and actor Adam Mondschein.”
    Although other cities in Contra Costa County will also commemorate the bicentennial, Orinda is the only one showing the film. In addition, a reception is planned for Oct. 28 at the Masonic Lodge, 9 Altarinda Road in Orinda.
    “The Baha’i Faith is all about reaching out and helping others,” Fanaieyan explains. “It’s sharing love for other human beings regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race.”
    Fanaieyan and his family have strong ties to the Baha’I Faith. Originally from Iran, the family suffered religious persecution with Fanaieyan’s father imprisoned for three years because of his faith. International pressure secured his release.
    In 1978, Fanaieyan came to the United States to study for one year. The revolution in Iran, however, turned that one year into a lifetime. He went into banking, married and moved to Orinda in 1989 with his wife and two children.
    “We feel very fortunate to have found Orinda and been able to have our children attend the wonderful schools here. Both of our children went on to the UC system and one is now an optometrist and the other is in public health,” says Fanaieyan.
    Orinda’s Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly began in 1989 and has 40 followers. Fanaieyan estimates approximately 100 Baha’i followers in Lamorinda, 100,000 nationally and more than 7 million globally.
    The film and the reception are open to the public. For more information on the event, email Fanaieyan at massoud.fanaieyan@gmail.com. To learn more about the Baha’i Faith, go to www.bahai.us.

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