Celebrating birth of the Báb
Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo heard about the Bahá’í faith and thought it sounded too good to be true.
Most fascinating to her was that members believed in the essential worth of all religions and the unity and equality of all people.
“The Bahá’í teachings talked about how important it was to have equality between women and men and how the extremes of poverty and wealth should be eliminated,” Mrs Ezekiel-Fagundo said. “I felt this was all good, but it couldn’t be real. There had to be catch.
“Then one night I read something that said, ‘If resources are limited to educate your children, Bahá’ís believe you should educate your girl first.’ The reason is because girls will likely grow up to become mothers and they will go on to educate the child. It was so radical, especially considering it was written in the Middle East in the 1800s, however, it made perfect sense.”
She has been a practising Bahá’í ever since.
Next Saturday a dramatic reading of vignettes based on the book The Dawn-Breakers takes place at the Bahá’í National Centre. The book details the life and ministry of the Báb, one of the central figures of the Bahá’í faith.
Mrs Ezekiel-Fagundo hopes the event will inspire people of all ages to be courageous and stand up for what they believe to be right.
“I wrote this play based on the book called The Dawn-Breakers, which I had to research for an event we held at the Bahá’í Centre in early August,” she said. “I have a knack for storytelling and love sharing my gifts with people, so I thought instead of just reading verses from The Dawn-Breakers in honour of the 200th anniversary of the Báb’s birth, it would be good to act them out.
“We didn’t have the time to organise a full-on production, but thought this piece could work well as a dramatic reading where the actors read their lines while sitting and act out the plot from the waist up.”
Characters will share their perspective on the Báb’s extraordinary life — from his birth in 1819 to his death in 1850 when he was executed by firing squad.
“Each character will share about this pivotal character in history,” Mrs Ezekiel-Fagundo said. “Two scenes will feature fictitious characters based on real-life events. The Báb’s ministry was for six years — from 1844 to 1850 — and he came to challenge the existing status quo because the religious elders of that time were corrupt.
“He was here to prepare hearts for one who is greater than Him, the Bahá’u’lláh, who was the founder of the Bahá’í faith.”
Mrs Ezekiel-Fagundo was born in India to a Jewish father and Hindu mother. She clearly remembers a comment her mother made to her at the age of 3: “If God saw people fighting in His name, He would cry”.
“That was very powerful for me and still is because I remember it 42 years later,” she said.
As Mrs Ezekiel-Fagundo grew older, her parents exposed her to many different religions and cultural traditions but left her to choose the faith she wanted to follow.
“My parents decided to raise me without one religion or the other because they felt it would create division in the household,” she said.
“So growing up, I went to church and Mass and Hindu ceremonies and to the temple. Everything I could go to, they would take me and when I got old enough my mother told me if I found the need I would find the religion that was right for me.”
While a student at Mount Allison University in Canada, she met her Bermudian husband, Nicholas Fagundo, a practising Bahá’í, and ultimately followed his path.
Mrs Ezekiel-Fagundo is hopeful that those who attend next Saturday’s readings will be inspired by the life and ministry of the Báb and leave with a deeper faith and understanding of the importance of showing compassion towards one another.
“I want people to be inspired to go off and be kinder, bolder and more audacious,” she said.
“I hope that, despite what crazy things are happening in the world, people will do something to help their fellow man by lending a hand to their church, children’s school or community group to create a better environment for all.
“Bahá’ís believe that even small acts of generosity can have a real impact. People say: ‘I’m just one person, what can I do?’ But what if a drop in the ocean said, ‘I’m just one drop, what can I do?’ We all have a part to play in making this world a better place.”
• Dramatic readings of vignettes based on the book The Dawn-Breakers take place next Saturday at 6.30pm at the Bahá’í National Centre at 8 Brunswick Street in Hamilton. Admission is free. for more information: https://bit.ly/2BbKwlL
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