This is the Day – Baha’i Community Feast in Queens, NY

Baha'i Feast in Queens, NYA recent visit to the City of the Covenant, New York, gave me a chance to experience what a joy the 19th Day Feast can be.

As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 91)

The previous day I had hosted the Feast of Sultan in our community and was eager to see how the friends in a different community celebrate. The set was the home of a loving Thai family which is raising two talented daughters in Queens, NY, with admirable dedication. The participants were Baha’is and family members from Chile, Equador, Thailand, El Salvador, Bulgaria — a true representation of the diversity of New York. We had a lively consultation on how to encourage the youth in service to the community. It was fascinating to see how challenges — perceived and real — gradually disappeared as soon as all of us engaged in the discussion and shared our thoughts freely, putting one young lady’s passion for baking cupcakes into an arts decoration project for children classes and junior youth groups at the New York Baha’i Center.

Teaching a trilingual group a song in Spanish was an interesting challenge but we all had good fun as you can see in the shaky video I took with my phone — the joy of the singers should compensate for the lack of a tripod and video editing:

“Hoy es el dia” is a song, written by Greg Shaw, and introduced to me by a friend from Colombia some 10 years ago:

Hoy es el dia de la Puerta de la Gloria,
Hoy es el dia de Ali, el Bab
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia, Hoy es el dia,
Hoy es el dia de Ali, el Bab
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia de la Gloria de Dios,
Hoy es el dia de Baha’u’llah
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia, hoy es el dia,
Hoy es el dia de Baha’u’llah
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia del Siervo de la Gloria,
Hoy es el dia de ‘Abdu’l-Baha
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia, hoy es el dia,
Hoy es el dia de ‘Abdu’l-Baha
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia de la unidad del mundo,
Hoy es el dia de la Fe Bahai
(repeat)
Hoy es el dia, hoy es el dia,
Hoy es el dia de la Fe Bahai
(repeat)

I love the cheerful, infectious joy of the song’s melody and the straightforward lyrics that even I can translate from the Spanish:

This is the Day of the Gate to the Glory, Ali, the Bab!
This is the Day of the Glory of God, Baha’u’llah!
This is the Day of the Servant of the Glory, Abdu’l-Baha!
This is the Day of the Unity of Mankind!
This is the Day of the Baha’i Faith!

This is the Day for community feasts, whether in Queens, NY or King of Prussia, PA!

O ye true friends! Your letter hath been received and it brought great joy. God be praised, ye had made ready an entertainment and established the feast which is to be held every nineteen days. Whatsoever gathering is arranged with the utmost love, and where those who attend are turning their faces toward the Kingdom of God, and where the discourse is of the Teachings of God, and the effect of which is to cause those present to advance — that gathering is the Lord’s, and that festive table hath come down from heaven.

It is my hope that this feast will be given on one day out of every nineteen, for it bringeth you closer together; it is the very well-spring of unity and loving-kindness.

Ye observe to what a degree the world is in continual turmoil and conflict, and to what a pass its nations have now come. Perchance will the lovers of God succeed in upraising the banner of human unity, so that the one-coloured tabernacle of the Kingdom of Heaven will cast its sheltering shadow over all the earth; that misunderstandings among the world’s peoples will vanish away; that all nations will mingle one with another, dealing with one another even as the lover with his beloved.

It is your duty to be exceedingly kind to every human being, and to wish him well; to work for the upliftment of society; to blow the breath of life into the dead; to act in accordance with the instructions of Bahá’u’lláh and walk His path — until ye change the world of man into the world of God.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 89)

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