The people below recall their Bahá'í Pilgrimage
Many people consider taking Pilgrimage to the Holy Land a once in a lifetime opportunity. Therefore, you will understand why I say I have been privileged to have made the trip three times – not bad for someone so young!
My most recent Pilgrimage was April 2006 when I went with my sister, Afsaneh and her daughter, Shiva. I am often asked to sum up my Pilgrimage in a few words, but it is really just impossible. From the Pilgrim meeting house to the tranquil and “out of this world” gardens, to the Archive building and the Shrine of the Bab, the whole experience is just unexplainable.
Just imagine, you get to see the Terraces, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the resting place of Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, the Garden of Ridvan, and so much more. For me the atmosphere of the whole Pilgrimage is the part I always remember and cherish. My tip for anyone going for the first time, leave your camera at home! Believe me, the camera will distract you from listening to the wonderful stories the tour guides tell you and soaking up the atmosphere. You can always purchase far more spectacular photos at a later time. I loved taking time to walk around the gardens and also meditating in the Shrines. It is such an amazing experience and something I will remember for the rest of my life!
I first went on a Bahá'í pilgrimage To Haifa and Akka, in Israel, with a group of 9 other UK youth around my own age in 1989. It was quite a profound experience.
In those days it was possible for youth to extend their 9-day Bahá'í pilgrimage to a mini holiday and so we spent an extra 4 days in Tel Aviv and used one of the days to visit the holy Jewish, Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem. It really helped me to get a better idea of God's progressive revelation by being present in sites associated to 4 major world religions.
My second pilgrimage to Haifa and Akka was with my parents during the Christmas and New Year holidays of 2006-2007. Things had certainly changed since my last visit! 19 beautiful terraces had been built above and below the Shrine of the Báb and the International Teaching Centre and Centre for the Study of the Texts beautifully adorned either side of the Archives Building and the seat of the Universal House of Justice.
The pilgrimage programme had changed too. This time, every afternoon was left free for pilgrims to spend in either the Shrine of the Báb or Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. Fantastic! I spent most of my days at Bahji in Akka in the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh and would rush out at closing time to beg a spare place on the last coach carrying pilgrims back to Haifa!! It was, for me, the most fulfilling sense of closeness and spiritual upliftment.
My hope is for each and every one of my friends to be able to share this experience or something similar.