Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tropical Naw-Ruz

Yesterday was Naw-Ruz, the Bahá’í New Year. We took the kids out of school, and to celebrate, took a boat ride over to Managaha, a tiny picturesque island about 20 minutes off of Saipan’s western shore. The island is reserved for recreational use, and no one lives there.

Naw-Ruz also marks the end of the 19 day period of fasting for Bahá’ís. Below is a brief talk that I gave a few years ago explaining Naw Ruz, the Fast, and an overview of the Bahá’í Faith at our community's celebration. That's followed by some photos of our day at Managaha.

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We would like to welcome you all here to this celebration of the Bahá’í New Year, Naw-Ruz. Naw Ruz is a time of hospitality and rejoicing, and we thank you all for being here to celebrate this festive occasion with us.

The Bahá’í year begins each year at sunset on March 20, the day of the vernal equinox. The equinox is the day on which the sun equally illuminates the whole earth. In many cultures, the equinox is a symbol of life and of divine illumination.

The Fast

Sunset today, also marks the end of the 19 day period of fasting for Bahá’ís. For the past 19 days, Bahá’ís around the world have arisen before dawn to pray and meditate, and have abstained from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. The fast is symbolic – a reminder. Its significance and purpose are fundamentally spiritual in character. It is a time of self restraint, a time to focus more actively on our spiritual side, a period of spiritual recuperation.

So we are honored to have you with us this evening, as we end our fast, and move into a new year.

The Bahá’í Faith

This evening marks the 160th (2007 is the 164th) year of the Bahá’í calendar. The Bahá’í Faith is the most recent of the world’s major religions. It began in 1844 in what was known as Persia, amidst tales of heroism and great sacrifice.

Bahá’u’lláh taught that there is a creative force, a creative energy in the universe, which is unknowable to us, and which humanity has called God. Throughout human history, this creative force, this unknowable essence, God, intervenes in human affairs, giving guidance to humanity through individuals that have come to be known as the founders of the world’s great religions – through Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Mohammad and, Bahá’u’lláh.

The teachings brought by these manifestations of God bring two sets of teachings – spiritual teachings and social teachings. The spiritual teachings address the spiritual life and growth of humankind, and remain essentially the same – that we be loving, kind, merciful, just and peace-loving. The social teachings change from age to age because humanity changes, and the needs of society change. The social teachings become the basis of the laws of society, and upon them, great civilizations are built.

The teachings of the Bahá’í Faith address the needs of an emerging global civilization. They include the recognition of the essential oneness of humankind, the elimination of all forms of prejudice, the equality of men and women, the need for universal education, and the essential harmony between science and religion. So the fundamental teachings of the Baha’i Faith – that there is only one God, that all the world’s religions have come from the same source, and that humanity is one – are captivating the hearts and unifying people around the world. The Bahá’í s here tonight come from Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim backgrounds. We live and work believing that humanity is now on the threshold of that long awaited day when peace will envelop the earth, when we will regard ourselves as all one people, and the earth as a common homeland.

Again, we welcome you and thank you for joining us, on this celebration of the Bahá’í New Year, the festival of Naw-Ruz. We hope you will all enjoy yourselves. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh, “Rejoice with exceeding gladness”.

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(Click on any of the photos to enlarge)

Preparing to Leave Saipan


Approaching Managaha. Look at that blue water!


At the Managaha dock.


Clear water, white sand, palm trees, blue skies. Just another average day in the South Pacific! Click on this photo to really appreciate the beauty (then click "back" to get back here).

Staying in the shade.




Managaha's eastern shore has been eroding. The soil is now gone, but the trees are still there. The whole island can be circumambulated in about 15 minutes (even with a two-year-old). That's Saipan in the background.

Managaha is the burial place of Chief Aghurubw. This is his statue and the plaque on the monument.


Ready to head home, after a great day. (This photo taken by a pair of Japanese tourists. Very nicely done! Domo arigato gozaimasu!).


6 comments:

KAP said...

Just a note before the Saipan Blogger attacks: we're in the North Pacific.

Nice blog, and I've always been fascinated by your religion...from afar, I'm not much of a joiner.

Marianas Eye said...

Hi KAP,

Thanks for the heads up. Let me preempt the cartographers.

For me, whether something is North or South all depends on my frame of reference and more importantly, my purpose in using the word. When I'm evoking images, (versus giving directions), Saipan will always be in the South Pacific... about 15 degrees above the equator (if anyone asks).

The "North Pacific" is a place for icebergs and tankers, not tropical islands. I might once in a while say "southern Pacific," but you'll never catch me saying that Saipan is in the North Pacific.

The phrase "South Pacific" has symbolic value beyond the relationship to the equator and as such it serves Saipan well.

That's how I can live with myself, even though I know that Saipan is not south of the equator. :-)

d

Simon said...

Dear David,
How can you post these? What are you trying to do to us here? Anyhow, Happy Naw Ruz to you and your gorgeous famiglia from South America.
S.

Marianas Eye said...

Hey, you're the one that decided to go live in Canada, off all places.

d

Marianas Life said...

hey doc. add me to your list of blogs. www.breeanddoug.blogspot.com

Is anyone here doing the Virtues Project? I've seen posters. I'd like to get one for my room and a deck of the cards.

Elisa (Italia) said...

Ciao
volevo farti i complimenti hai un sito bellissimo un abbraccio dall'Italia
Elisa


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