Australian Baha'i Sites

Drawing on the spiritual power of the arts

Baha’is always strive to further enrich their community-building activities by drawing on the arts – whether through prayers put to music, drama, or the use of visual arts incorporated in children’s and youth spaces.

In Australia’s north east, some 80 Baha’is from across Queensland recently came together for a day to explore the power of the arts, and to help kick-off a process of learning and action.

The day started with the study of a small collection of short passages. Participants reflected on what it might mean when ‘Abdu’l-Baha refers to someone “blend[ing] … tunes with the melodies of the Kingdom” or when the Bab counsels that “whoever possesseth power over anything must elevate it to its uttermost perfection that it not be deprived of its own paradise”.

Attendees at the regional arts gathering

One presenter, Ruha Fifita, spoke to the role that ‘ngatu’, or tapa cloth, has in Tongan society across all aspects of community life. As she unrolled a ngatu for all to see, participants reflected on how pivotal the arts can be in a communal setting, highlighting the statement from the Universal House of Justice that:

…the arts as a whole, so integral a part of the development of a community from the start, stand out in such settings as an important means of generating joy, strengthening bonds of unity, disseminating knowledge, and consolidating understanding, as well as of acquainting those in the wider society with the principles of the Cause.

Participants in a workshop about the use of drama to tell stories

With the program combining music, theatre, drama, visual art, poetry and rap, facilitators were able to share how their respective art forms could be used in various community building endeavours, using examples of how such mediums generated joy, strengthened bonds of unity, disseminated knowledge, consolidated understanding, and acquainted people with the principles of the Cause.

Participants in a breakout group learning about theatre sports

The conference was one element of an ongoing effort across the north-east to learn more about how both individuals and communities can draw on the spiritual force of the arts as they return to their homes and become active agents of change, keeping the following words of the Universal House of Justice in mind:

In this new series of Plans, increasing attention needs to be given to other processes that seek to enhance the life of a community—for example, … drawing more effectively on the power of the arts.1 

Footnotes

  1. Universal House of Justice, 2023[]

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Baha’i Council for North Eastern Australia

The Baha’i Council for North Eastern Australia works across Queensland and northern New South Wales to support the movement of Baha’i communities in the area along a rich and dynamic continuum of development.

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Published in March, 2024, in Baha'i Institutions > Events

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/bahai-institutions/drawing-on-the-spiritual-power-of-the-arts/

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