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Lotus Temple, Delhi
Located in Kalkaji in the south of Delhi, it is lotus shaped and has rightly been given the name. It is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. It is open to all faiths and is an ideal place for meditation and obtaining peace and tranquility.
It is a very recent architectural marvel of the Bahai faith. The Bahá’í Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent religions. Its founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá’ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá’u’lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
THE GRAND STRUCTURE
Fariborz Sahba, Canadian architect of Iranian origin, spent 10 years in designing and project management, and with the help of a team of about 800 engineers, technicians, artisans and workers brought to realization one of the most complicated constructions in the world. The structure of the House is composed of three ranks of nine petals; each springing from a podium elevating the building above the surrounding plain. The first two ranks curve inward, embracing the inner dome; the third layer curves outward to form canopies over the nine entrances. The petals, constructed of reinforced white concrete cast in place, are clad in white marble panels, performed to surface profiles and patterns related to the geometry. Nine arches that provide the main support for the superstructure ring the central hall. Nine reflecting pools surround the building on the outside, their form suggesting the green leaves of the lotus flower. Translating the geometry of the design, in which there are virtually no straight lines, into the actual structure presented particular challenges in designing and erecting the framework. Not only was it difficult to align, so as to produce accurately the complex double-curved surfaces and their intersections, but also the closeness of the petals severely restricted workspace. Nevertheless the task was carried out entirely by the local laborers. Thanks to each one who contributed in its construction. To avoid construction joints, petals were concreted in a continuous operation for approximately 48 hours. Concrete was carried up the staging by women bearing 50-pound loads in baskets balanced on their heads. All the steel reinforcing for the shells of the lotus petals was galvanized to avoid rust stains on the white concrete in the prevailing humid conditions, guaranteeing the life of the delicate shell structure of 6 to 18 cm thick shells of the petals. India is well endowed with human resources.
Bahai’ Temple in New Delhi SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DESIGN
The lotus represents the Manifestation of God, and is also a symbol of purity and tenderness. Its significance is deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of the Indians. In the epic poem Mahabharata, the Creator Brahma is described as having sprung from the lotus that grew out of Lord Vishnu’s navel when that deity lay absorbed in meditation, There is a deep and universal reverence for the lotus, which is regarded as a sacred flower associated with worship throughout many centuries. In Buddhist folklore the Boddhisatva Avalokiteswara is represented as born from a lotus, and is usually depicted as standing or sitting on a lotus pedestal and holding a lotus bloom in his hand. Buddhists glorify him in their prayers, “Om Mani Padme Hum”, “Yea, 0 Jewel in the Lotus!” Lord Buddha says you have to be like a lotus which, although living in dirty water, still remains beautiful and undefiled by its surroundings. So, we realise that the lotus is associated with worship, and has been a part of the life and thoughts of Indians through the ages. It will seem to them as though they have been worshipping in this Temple in their dreams for years. Now their vision has become a reality and. God willing, some day they will all enter and worship in it. History of the Bahá’í Faith in India: The history of the Bahá’í Faith in India started with the inception of the Faith in Iran when the Báb (literally, the Gate) inaugurated a new era in the history of the human race. The Báb Himself had appointed one of the Indian believers as the ‘Letter of Living’ in 1844-45, the first year of His Ministry. Since then, India is spiritually connected with the Bahá’i Faith.
As foretold by the Báb, the Promised One of all ages and peoples, Bahá’u’lláh (literally the Glory of God) revealed Himself in 1863. He, Himself, dispatched one of the distinguished Bahá’í teachers, Jamal Effendi, to teach the Cause of God in the years 1874-75. Jamal Effendi (left) traveled to many States and was successful in attracting many learned people and few Navaabs (ruler of the states) including the Navaab of Rampur State (now in U.P.) to the Faith. One young man who accepted was Syed Mustafa Roumi who later became distinguished in his manifold services and was appointed as a Hand of the Cause of God. Some of them accepted Bahá’u’lláh as the Universal Manifestation of God whose advent has been prophesied in all the Holy Scriptures. The other teachers who came to India during Bahá’u’lláh’s Ministry included Mishkin Qalam, the distinguished Bahá’í Calligrapher. A series of teachers from the East and the West continued visiting India and traveling throughout the country during the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (literally, the Servant of Bahá), the much-loved Master of the Bahá’í Faith. Prominent among them were Mirza Mahram and Mirza Mahmud Zarqani.
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