By Anupama R. (Ex-Baha’i from India)
On the order of the Hand of Bahaism (Baha’is call it “Hand of Cause of God”) Mr. Rahmatullah Muhajir – Iranian Architect Fariborz Sahba was given the job to design the Indian House of Worship. He did not had any Idea for the design, so he did a tour of India to get an understanding of what will attract Indian Hindus to their “future structure”? What it should be like so that in the future it will serve as a conversion tool to build Baha’i Human Resource in India. Baha’is were convinced that Indians can only be converted to their cult if they use Indian culture to deceive them. Finally the shape of Lotus, which is a very important flower in Hinduism, was decided to be given to this temple.
Thus started the project :
• The job of Structural Engineering was given to Flint and Neill Company of London.
• All structural drawings and calculations were double checked in Geneva.
• A study of what type of concrete of what strength to be used was carried out with the help of specialist concrete technologists of the Concrete Association of England.
• A scale model of the Temple was made by specialists in London.
• The final design and layout were approved by the Israeli UHJ in 1977.
Regarding the work that Lotus Temple is going to do in future – Ruhiyyih Kanum Says : “It
is symmetrical, it is exquisitely beautiful. And how does it grow? It grows in a swamp and it raises its head out of the slime absolutely clean and perfect.”
May be through these rosy sentences she meant to say that in the Land of Hindus this temple will sow the seeds of Baha’ism. In this marshy land of cults and castes and religions Baha’ism will boom like a lotus in muddy waters.
Regarding Fundraising Shoghi Effendi says : “…the greater the sacrifice, the greater the power of the Mashriqu’l-Azkar (Temple)”. Baha’is were asked to donate money for this temple.
• 92000 Square Metres of land in Delhi was purchased merely for Rupees 140,289.
• Ardashir Rustampur of Pakistan donated Rupees 100,190 for the Land of Lotus Temple.
• The major amount for construction of Lotus Temple came due to a Baha’i serving a Prison Sentence in Mozambique, Africa.
• Another major portion of sum came from Panama.
The contribution of Indian Baha’is to this project is not known except the mention of one village Baha’i who dropped into the Temple fund box a two-paise coin (one-fifth of a cent) and another Baha’i offered Rupees 100. Hence UHJ asked the Indian NSA to print coupons of Rupees 1 to 100 and collect funds from Indians. It is stated that 22% of construction cost was contributed by Indian Baha’is. But this is merely a claim without any proof. Even today, the Baha’is in India do not contribute to Baha’i Activities. Only a few Baha’is of Iranian origin sponsor Bahaism in India. For instance Zia Mody is the one who alone contributes Millions of Rupees to sponsor Bahaism in India.
On 30 July 1980 prayers were offered and, following Hindu tradition, coconuts were broken and sweets were distributed to the gathering. (Although Shoghi Effendi strictly forbids following the customs of other religions and celebrating their festivals)
Mrs. Golnar Sahba (Rafi’i), Iranian wife of Architect Fariborz Sahba poured the first trowelful of concrete into the first pit.
A brick from the Siyah-Chal (Black Pit in Iran where Baha’u’llah was Imprisoned), as directed by the Universal House of Justice (Israel), was laid into the foundation of this temple.
The marble for external shell cladding was imported from Italy.
Baha’is demanded official exemption from import duty for Italian Marble, which was granted to them by three Indian Ministries. (They took the benefits although they claim they do not accept any contribution from non-Baha’is)
This is how Indian Baha’i Temple came into existence and this is how the Largest Baha’i Community of more than 2 Million at that time helped in its construction.
Please refer Bahai World – Volume 18 for more details.
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