Bahá'ís of Ottawa come from a variety of backgrounds, brought together
by a common belief in the oneness of humanity and the unity of
religion. We work alongside others to become a force of positive
change, applying insights from the Bahá'í teachings to bring about a
more just, peaceful and unified community.
Turnout at 2016 World Religions Day
Mayor Jim Watson praises faith communities for their community
On January 17, 2016
Mayor Jim Watson warmly welcomed members of many of Ottawa’s different
faith communities who had gathered at City Hall to celebrate World
Religion Day. “This is the best turnout we’ve ever seen for World
Religion Day,” the Mayor noted, to a crowd of approximately 250.
characterized Ottawa's faith communities by their “many
contributions and service to our community” which were well‐known and
appreciated by city council, several members of which were also in
attendance. The city’s religious communities have always been quick to
to “step up to the plate” for community issues, such as helping welcome
refugees “to our country, to our city and to our neighbourhoods.” This
spirit of community service helped make Ottawa one of the most generous
cities in the country in terms of volunteerism and charitable
donations, he said. This generosity was
evident from “church to church,
mosque to mosque and temple to temple across the city.”
thanked the Baha’i community of Ottawa for organizing
World Religion Day and before making the official declaration, reminded
everyone that the purpose of the event was “to unite everyone, no
matter what their faith or origin and shows us that there are common
foundations of all religions.” World Religion Day, said Mayor Watson,
“promotes harmony, mutual understanding and respect amongst all people
of faith and it sends the message that we can work together to create a
year’s program reflected on on shared values of service and
building bridges between people, especially during times of conflict,
prejudice and strife. The program featured many musical presentations
from different traditions, and was closed by the Baha’i children’s
Religion Day 2016
Photos © Louis Brunet
Hariri and the architecture of “Embodied Light”
The Bahá'í Temple in Santiago, Chile.
Ottawa, November 16, 2015
Canadian architect Siamak Hariri spoke to a packed lecture theatre at
the National Gallery of Canada about the creative process behind the
nearly completed Bahá'í Temple of South America. After a brief
introduction to the evolving philosophy of his Toronto firm, Hariri Pontarini Architects, he
shared some of the fascinating design challenges of this project.
Hariri's accessible presentation style captured the imagination of both
the professional architectural community and the members of the general
public who were present that night.
Bahá'í community has constructed a House of Worship or
mašriqul'aḏkār on every
continent except South America. The
Santiago temple will be the eighth
and final continental “mother temple.” The competitive process included
some unusual building specifications, such as a four hundred year
building mandate. The temple also needed to withstand considerable
seismic activity, since it sits on a major fault line running down the
Andes. Hariri's winning bid boldly proposed a temple of glass.
the beginning, their guiding vision for the project was a “temple
of light.” Hariri narrated the winding journey to the final design. A
recurring theme in his talk was Bahá’u’llah’s parable of the mystic
seeker and his troubled quest for his beloved Layli. Hariri described
many design deadends and failed experiments with materials. As with
the story of Layli, intractable problems gave way to
Consistently, they maintained their focus on a vision of
a sacred building of “embodied light."
translucent nature, the other characteristic of the temple is its
dynamic motion. It appears to be twisting around a central
the centre of the ceiling. Hariri spoke of their desire to create a
sense of "movement and stillness coexisting."
design team asked questions like “what would this building feel
like?” They imagined the irregular passage of light that one
experiences sitting under a canopy of trees. They strove to create a
sensation resembling the organic warmth of illuminated alabaster.
Discussing the textures and forms that inspired their design, Hariri
rarely mentioned other buildings. He referred to organic natural shapes
such as eggs, shells and wings. He studied non-architectural cultural
objects: Japanese baskets, billowing sails, canvas tents and the
whirling robes of Sufi dancers.
innovative building techniques required traditional physical models
and cuttingedge 3D rendering software. Their ideal building materials
had to be invented and factories were constructed to produce them for
construction. A steel lattice system of connector rods and irregular
nodes frame the nine wings. These rest on concrete seismic isolation
pads equipped with pendulums that permit each wing to move two feet
during an earthquake. The steel skeleton is clad with a translucent
skin made of three thousand square feet of custom shaped castglass
panels. Portuguese marble provided a warmer texture on the interior,
"like a jacket liner." The interior tracery, made of nickelplated
stainless steel and oak, was inspired by the abstract expressionist “white writing” paintings of Mark Tobey.
explained some fixed design elements found in all Bahá'í Houses
of Worship. They should be welcoming to all, even those with no faith.
Thus, Bahá'í temples have nine doors rather than one. They
are circular and don't resemble churches, mosques or other
forms of religious architecture.
This critically appraised design has
been under construction for several years and is scheduled to open in
2016. For more information and links to the official photo and video
logs of the construction process, click here.
Bahá'í Community Celebrates the Life of Bahá’u’lláh
On November 13,
over 700 Ottawa Bahá'ís and their friends gathered at the Hellenic
Centre on Prince of Wales Road to celebrate the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.
Bahá'í Holy Days are special occasions for the community to join
together with music, food, prayers and friends.
“I love the atmosphere at Bahá'í events – creativity, joy, laughter,”
said Tamara Wong. “Everyone is welcome. Everyone is a new friend.”
The evening began with a musical meditation on cello and piano. A
program of prayers, readings and music, including a songs led by the
community choir, all helped those gathered to reflect on the
significance of the life of Bahá’u’lláh.
“It happens once a year, and you meet new people and old friends.
That’s the beautiful thing,” explained Noel Hollandais. “And it’s the
first time these anniversaries have been celebrated together,”
referring to the commemoration of the “twin holy birthdays” of
Bahá’u’lláh and the Bab. As the Ottawa community and their friends
gathered together, it was with the knowledge that communities all
around the globe were celebrating this special event with
“The most important thing for everyone is to feel part of a community,
” emphasized Amin Rashidi. Looking around the room, he noted both a
diversity and commonality that bound everyone together like a “glue,”
in his words. “We often lack this, not only a physical but a spiritual
community.” It was always nice to get together with friends, he said,
“but at these holy days there is such an immense amount of unity and
Of course, the peaceful unification of all the peoples of the world is
a central Bahá'í teaching. Perhaps translating this ideal into reality
is the most fitting way for the community to commemorate the life of