Simply walking on the white gravel footpath crossing the Bahai gardens in Acre is meditative in itself. Stenciled pathways, nurtured and neatly groomed shrubs, a fountain and stone structures designed in clean lines. Footsteps. The world’s most sacred pilgrimage site for members of the Baha’i faith. Indeed a surprise.
At the entrance to the garden, a number of boards providing an explanation in several languages await the visitors. The garden’s security personnel greet visitors with intelligent appeal and answer any questions they may have. It is evident that they were handpicked and that they feel a part of the place. Delightful. Ask them for information pages that will accompany you to the end of the visit.
The Bahai faith is the youngest of world’s religions (1844) and numbers about five million followers around the world. Its principles are unity and faith in one God. It opposes prejudice and praises equality of men and women, economic equality, universal compulsory education, as well as the right and responsibility of each person for independent investigation of truth. The Bahai believe in a common foundation between religion and logic, and an essential harmony of science and religion. Amen.
The founder of the Bahai religion is Mirza Hoseyn ‘Ali (1817-1892) who was known by the title Baha’u’llah (The Glory of God).
During the visit to the Bahai Gardens visitors can find out why he came to Acre, but the bottom line is that the Baha’u’llah lived here at the end of his days and upon his demise was laid to rest in the small structure that has become his shrine. The garden design emphasizes the unity between the Eats (a Persian garden) and the West (the style of the sculptures) and the contrasts in nature represented by the strong colors of flours (green against bright red for instance).
Near the shrine the rocks of the pathway change into tiny pebbles.
Visits inside the shrine are short and conducted in groups of 15-20 people. At the entrance visitors are greeted by a guide. Our guide, a beautiful, angelic looking Nepali girl, whispered a few words of explanation in English and asked us to take our shoes off, mute our phones and not to take pictures. Passing by the burial chamber of the Baha’u’llah, visitors may take a brief glance at the Holy of Holies and exit. “Please come”.
At the exit from the garden the security man reinforces our sentiments: “This place is a sliver of treasure connecting all three religions”. We have the distinct sensation that we were exposed to a site of international scale – hidden a hop skip and a jump away from home.
A small step for mankind.