Jamaicans celebrate 4th National Baha'i Day
KINGSTON, Jamaica — When the Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Howard Cooke, proclaimed a National Bahá’í Day for this tropical Caribbean island nation three years ago, Bahá’ís here had no idea it would become an annual event.
Established in 2003 as part of the 60th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Faith in Jamaica, Bahá’ís discovered in 2004 that once a proclamation has been made, it becomes a permanent feature of the island.
“We began to have observations for ‘Bahá’í Day’ on July 25 each year,” said Linda Roche, secretary of the Bahá’í community of Jamaica.
The event has become a celebration not only for the 21 local Bahá’í communities on the island, but they have been joined by other religious leaders and Jamaican politicians.
This year the Bahá’í Day events included a Bahá’í Day Breakfast sponsored by the National Spiritual Assembly. It was attended by representatives of the various religions from the Interfaith Council, including Moslems, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus, as well as the Mayor of Kingston and the media.
"Since the politicians are not considered to have the moral authority, it is the newer churches and religions like the Bahá’ís, and their refreshingly new view of morality, to which we must turn."
—Desmond McKenzie, Mayor, Kingston, Jamaica
Celebrations were also held in Kingston, Montego Bay, and Port Antonio. Port Antonio held a four-day exhibition at the public library on the history of the Faith in Jamaica.
The highlight of the national observance was the speech by Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie, who praised the Bahá’í community of Jamaica for its message of spirituality and unity at a time when many are losing faith in politics and traditional religions.
“We have always depended on the traditional churches to create the foundation for moral respect and social tolerance,” said Mayor McKenzie.
“However, we are concerned that the traditional churches seem to have lost their voices lately when it comes to the issue of morality,” said Mr. McKenzie, who is not a Bahá’í, “And since the politicians are not considered to have the moral authority, it is the newer churches and religions like the Bahá’ís, and their refreshingly new view of morality, to which we must turn.
“Bahá’u’lláh’s divine mission was to bring about spiritual rebirth and the unity of mankind leading to a permanent world peace and the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth,” said Mr. McKenzie. “The city of Kingston welcomes the Bahá’ís with open arms because we share your zest for unity and peace.”