The Lotus Temple
Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect Fariburz Sahba in 1986, Delhi’s Bahai temple is a wonderful place to enjoy silence – a rare experience in Delhi. Inspired by the lotus flower, the design for the House of Worship in New Delhi is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. The nine doors of the Lotus Temple open onto a central hall slightly more than 40 meters tall that is capable of holding up to 2,500 people. The surface of the House of Worship is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the very same from which many ancient monuments and other Bahá’í Houses of Worship are built. Along with its nine surrounding ponds and the gardens, the Lotus Temple property comprises 26 acres.
All Bahá’í Houses of Worship, including the Lotus Temple, share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Bahá’í scripture. `Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship is a nine-sided circular shape. While all current Bahá’í Houses of Worship have a dome, this is not regarded as an essential part of their architecture. Bahá’í scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars be incorporated as an architectural feature (readers may stand behind simple portable lecture stands).
Since its inauguration to public worship and visits in December 1986, the Bahá’í House of Worship in New Delhi, India has drawn to its portals more than 70 million visitors, making it one of the most visited edifices in the world. On an average, 8,000 to 10,000 people visit the Bahá’í House of Worship each day. These visitors have admired its universal design in the form of a lotus and have been fascinated by the Teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, especially its tenets of the Oneness of God, the Oneness of Religions, and the Oneness of Mankind.
This Bahá’í House of Worship of the Indian subcontinent joins six other Bahá’í Houses of Worship around the world: Apia, Western Samoa; Sydney, Australia; Kampala, Uganda; Panama City, Panama; Frankfurt, Germany; Wilmette, USA. Each of these Houses of Worship, while sharing some basic design concepts, has its own distinct cultural identity embodying the principle of unity in diversity.
The Bahá’í Faith
The Baha’i faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples in one universal Cause and one common Faith. Bahá’is are the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, Who they believe is the Promised One of all Ages. The traditions of almost every people include the promise of a future when peace and harmony will be established on earth and humankind will live in prosperity. They believe that the promised hour has come and that Bahá’u’lláh is the great Personage Whose teachings will enable humanity to build a new world.