Song, spirit converge for Bahais

December 06, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Julie Badiee spent last week singing in a 400-member choir with voices from 35 different countries.

The language of music and songs of faith crossed all barriers.

"We sang songs in English, Arabic and Persian," said Ms. Badiee, a Western Maryland College art history professor, who speaks German, French and Persian in addition to English. "With my language background, I could get going with just about everyone."

The occasion of all this linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity was the World Congress of the Bahai Faith in New York City.

About 30,000 followers of the independent religion, whose pivotal teaching is the oneness of humanity, met to celebrate the growth and diversity of the global Bahai community. "The inner experience for Bahais all over the world was to connect and get a sense of global unity," she said. "The outer experience was to show the world that here is a larger community whose major goal is to live together in harmony and peace."

Ms. Badiee and Kathy Tomarelli, who played flute in the event's 80-piece orchestra, were chosen from worldwide auditions to perform at the convention. "There was an excitement in the air as more and more Bahais arrived," said Ms. Tomarelli of Uniontown. "Even the taxi drivers said they never met people like us. The same ones kept returning to pick up fares."

The greatest excitement, she said, was "being with people who share the same faith and vision for the world."

Ms. Badiee, a Westminster resident, has practiced the Bahai faith for about 20 years and said the congress convinced her the world is evolving toward a global civilization. "I always believed in the oneness of humanity and the possibility of global unity," she said. "This event convinced me."

Singing in the choir with so many different personalities in harmony was "a metaphor for the whole experience of the human race," she said.

"The mixing and blending was bigger than all of us," she said. "So many people subjugated the rough edges of ego to create music." Ms. Tomarelli felt much the same sentiments about the orchestra.

"I was a little worried at first, but after the first few bars, I knew playing at the World Congress was why we, as musicians, had all our training and experience," she said.

For those who could not attend the congress, smaller conferences took place in eight other cities around the globe.

On Thanksgiving, the last day of the Congress, a satellite link put members in New York in touch with those other conference sites.

"We could hear them talk and they could hear us," said Ms. Badiee. "Then, everyone around the globe was singing the same song."

The Congress has led to many new international friends for the two Carroll County women.

Ms. Badiee, who also attended the convention with her husband, Heshmat, and daughter, Andaleeb, met about 45 new in-laws at a family reunion.

"My husband's family have been Bahais for generations back to the beginning of the faith," she said. "They came from three continents to attend."

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