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Sacred birthday for local Baha’is

Three Nevada County pre-teens suited up this week in colorful shawls and flowing white pants inspired by 19th-century Persian fashions.

But it wasn’t an early trick-or-treat session – it was for a dramatic re-enactment at the birthday celebration of The Bab (pronounced Bob), one of the most important figures in the Baha’i faith.

A group of Baha’is gathered at a home in Nevada City Tuesday evening to mark the 191st birthday of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, a merchant in the city of Shiraz, Persia.



At 25, Ali-Muhammad announced that he had been sent by God to prepare humanity for a new age and another messenger even greater than himself. His role is comparable to John the Baptist’s role as prophet for the coming of Jesus Christ.

He took the title of the Bab, which means “Gate” in Arabic, and announced the coming of the most recent important figure in the faith: Baha’u’llah.




After gaining tens of thousands of followers, The Bab was publicly executed in 1850 in the city of Tabriz, Iran. In 1863, one of his followers, Baha’u’llah, announced that he was the promised messenger of God.

Tuesday’s celebration included a festive reception and reflective music; followers read prayers of praise penned by The Bab himself.

The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion that embraces the lead figures of several major faiths – including Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad – as messengers from God.

While only a few dozen Baha’is are active in Nevada County, the birthday get-together included some non-Baha’i friends and neighbors, and gatherings are welcome to people of all faiths.

That reflects the racial and religious inclusiveness of the Baha’i tradition overall.

“We’re told to befriend all people,” said hostess Shiva Reader. “We’re striving for the unity of mankind.”

On Nov. 12, Baha’is will mark another significant holiday: The birth of Baha’u’llah, whose teachings are the basis of the Baha’i faith. A free, public celebration is set for 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the fellowship hall of the Nevada City United Methodist Church, 433 Broad St.

Baha’is incorporated in Nevada County in 1976. For information, on the group’s activities, call (530) 477-7010.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail mrindels@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4247.


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