Front Row (L to R):
Homayoun, Nadia, Nicky, Atta'u'llah, Keon, Alex and Leyla.
Back Row: Bob, Sherri and Layla.
Having found costumes, a recording of the call to prayer and the white taj, I set about to
identify the narrators and actors for the celebration program. I wanted to utilize young and older people as well as a variety of races, which would be in keeping with Bahá’í principles. After asking several people to play various parts, I realized that it would be difficult to find Africans who would be willing to act out what I had written. Fortunately, the Persian Bahá’í community in South Africa exists in considerable numbers and they were more than willing to accept a variety of parts. Unfortunately, however, none of them had anything in the way of traditional Persian attire that could be used in costuming. Which, as I thought about it, made sense as many of them fled Iran under duress or were born here. Aside from Sherri and myself, all of the narrators and other actors were of Persian descent.
One of the final parts of the program that required attention had to do with the large number of roses that were collected every day from the Garden of Ridvan. The piles of roses would often be so tall that
those sitting around them could not see one another. Bahá’u’lláh would then instruct his followers to distribute the roses to the believers in Baghdad every day of the 12 days of Ridvan. In an attempt to find a few roses that the actors could distribute to those who attended the program at its conclusion, I contacted a Bahá’í woman named Karen who owned a flower farm. Upon calling her business, I learned that she had retired and that the business had a new owner, named Kathy, who insisted on being of assistance. She told me that I could have all of the roses I wanted and they would be delivered for R1.40 per rose. That was equal to about 13 cents each in U.S. At that price I might be able to have a pile of roses for the program.
Our friends Ryan and Leyla, who agreed to narrate and act in the program, provided us with a wonderful recording of Iranian santoor and drum music that would play throughout the program and enhance the atmosphere of the event. A professional sound engineer named Nicola, who is a Bahá’í, agreed to manage the timing and sound levels of the
offers The Garden of Ridvan to Baha'u'llah
music and the Muslim call to prayer.
Sherri and I arrived at the National Bahá’í Centre at 9:00 AM and moved a large Persian carpet into the center of the main meeting room in which we would stage the program. It was on the center of this carpet that we would place the taj on a cushion while the actors would stand at the edge of the carpet and address the taj. We set about cleaning and organizing and arranging the chairs and props. Everyone arrived close to 10:00 AM for our rehearsal, and we were finished by 12:30 PM and began helping our participants dress in the variety of costumes, scarves and hats I had purchased or borrowed. The program began at 3:30 PM following the annual Bahá’í elections, and if I do say so myself, it all went very well.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us in presenting this program and the Johannesburg Spiritual Assembly for giving us the opportunity to celebrate this wonderful Bahá’í Holy Day.
As a footnote, I just received an e-mail response from Muhammad, who welcomed me back to South Africa and indicated that
A Persian Nobil Woman
asks Baha'u'llah to bless her son
he had checked out our blog and that it needed to be up-dated. This story should satisfy that concern. He also indicated that he had talked to his wife, and that the four of us should meet for dinner soon. To my surprise he signed his e-mail with “Your brother, Muhammed,” and I now must admit to feeling the surprise what I suspected the veiled woman in the clothing store had experienced when I addressed her as “sister.”
Alláh’u’Abhá! (God is Glorious)
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