It is a very recent architectural
marvel of the Bahai faith, located in Kalkaji, south of Delhi. Shaped like a
half opened Lotus flower, this temple 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. Bahai's Temple is a marvel of modern
architecture, which is visible from several spots in south Delhi.
lotus flower signifies purity and peace, a representation of the
Manifestation of God, to the people of India. This ancient symbol has been
given a modern and contemporary form in the structure of the Bahai House of
Worship drawing into its sanctum sanctorum people from all races, religious
backgrounds and culture from around the globe. It represents the Bahai
faith, - an independent world religion; divine in origin, all embracing in
scope, broad in its outlook, scientific in its method, humanitarian in its
principles, and dynamic in the influence.
The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the
world's independent religions.
The Bahai Faith
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.
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.
of the purposes of the Bahá'í Faith is to help make this
possible. A worldwide community of some five million Bahá'ís,
representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth, is
working to give Bahá'u'lláh's teachings practical effect.
Their experience will be a source of encouragement to all who share their
vision of humanity as one global family and the earth as one homeland.
Bahai house of worship are open to all peoples.
Bahai Houses of Worship
Although their architectural styles differ widely, the nine sides and
central dome common to all of them symbolize at once the diversity of the
human race and its essential oneness. Devotional programs are simple,
consisting of prayers, meditations, and the reading of selections from the
sacred scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith and other world
religions. Music is provided by unaccompanied choirs.
The Grand Structure of Bahai Temple
In the raising of the House of Worship in New Delhi traditional
Indian means of construction were employed coupled with the most modern
Western engineering design. 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 realisation one of the most complicated constructions in the
world. Rising pure and unsullied above stagnant, muddy waters, the Indians
have seen this flower as worthy of emulation, teaching them to be detached
from material preoccupations. This temple joins six other
Bahai temples around the world. Each of these Houses while sharing some
basic design concepts, has its own distinct cultural identity embodying the
principle of unity in diversity.
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
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 labourers. 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 galvanised 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.
The architect believes that this
design could not have been executed anywhere else because it is rare to find
the combination of traditional craftsmanship, pride in one's work, empathy
for spiritual undertaking, perseverance under all odds and ample patience,
as can be found in the Indian sub-continent. As commented by progressive
Architecture of USA in their article on the Bahai Temple "It goes to
prove that high-tech concepts do not always demand high-tech solutions."
The Indian visitors, from the most sophisticated to the most simple,
expressed perplexity at the absence of any idols. It has been a hard task
since explaining to them that the all-pervasive Almighty cannot be put in
any limited form. Hence, over the years the visitors from India have begun
to understand that the purpose of the Bahai House of Worship is to unite the
hearts of the people and bring them closer to their Creator.
The Final Word
Since its inauguration to public worship in December 1986, the
Bahai House of Worship has drawn to its portals more than 50 million
visitors, making it the most visited edifice in the world. People have come
regardless of the scorching summer heat of Delhi, which sometimes rises
above 40°C during the months of June to September, and have braced the
chill and cold rains that Delhi experiences during winter. They have admired
the beautiful lotus form of the Temple, and have been fascinated by the
teachings of the Bahai Faith, which believes in oneness of God, oneness of
religions and oneness of mankind.