New Baha’i temple in Santiago, Chile has had over 25,000 visitors since October.
Members of the Baha’i community in Santiago, Chile have had to bond with and make room for the New Baha’i temple that was opened in October. The official visitor statistics from the temple show that in a just a few weeks from the temple’s inauguration, about 25,000 people have come to the temple. There have been varied reasons for this viral interest in the temple, ranging from architectural curiosity to searching for sacredness in a religion that few in the world understand and adhere to.
The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion that was started in 19th century Iran by Baha’u’llah. He is claimed to be the latest in a series of messengers sent on earth by God. These messengers included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.
As the latest of these messengers, Baha’u’llah claims that all the world religions are just different chapters of the same book, that they all have one source, who is God and that we are all connected. He said, “If the learned and worldly-wise men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship and love, every understanding heart would apprehend the meaning of true liberty, and discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure.”
With over five million believers spread out in 200 countries, the Baha’i faith strongly believes in the unity of God, the unity of Religion and the unity of all humanity. With the erection of the Temple in Chile, local faith members have been putting up informal spaces on temple land so as to reach visitors and explain to them the core tenets and beliefs of their faith.
Jenny Perez, a representative of the Chilean Baha’i community commented on the massive number of visitors the temple has received. She remarked, “We had expected large numbers of visitors but have been surprised by just how many have come in the first month alone. We hope that the Temple will be a setting where people can explore, to the extent they wish, a deeper understanding of what a sacred or spiritual experience can be, and how it is connected to the way that we each contribute to the well-being of each other and of the world.”
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While the temple was being opened in October, Claudio Oreggo, the governor of Santiago Metropolitan region stated, “Today we see the beauty of its creation, together with all the divine and human forces that have made it possible. Santiago will be different from now on because of this beautiful temple that has been given to us…It doesn’t matter what religion we belong to, what creed we profess, our cities are full of the thirst for silence and to transcend.”
Berta Blanco, one of the Chilean adherents of the Baha’i faith commented, “I think the Temple is going to bring a lot of changes for my family, for my community, for my people, for the tradition I come from.”
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