My family’s pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Centre is over, but the journey of others has only just begun. Several friends and acquaintances—Sham, Sahba and Melody are among those leaving for pilgrimage this season; the Moradipours (you may know Tassnim, Basim or Salim) just returned from their pilgrimage last week, and their photos are already up on flickr—good time, considering mine weren’t up for an entire month.
Maruška from Slovenije, er, I mean Slovenia—took time away from writing her thesis to write up her pilgrimage experiences for everyone to read. Go check them out, it’s definitely worth the read. Maruška is one of the Baha’is who stayed with us at the well-recommended hostel, the Port Inn, in Haifa. She taught me that cmrlj means “bumblebee” in Slovenian. We have fond memories of the good times shared with our fellow “Port Inners”. We miss Rachel too 🙁
A few more friends we met on pilgrimage have made their presence known on the Internet. Seth from Georgia, Nina from NZ and Farideh from Saskatoon were all part of our 250-strong set of pilgrims. See Farideh’s photos, Nina’s photos and Seth’s photos on flickr. Juliette was part of our group—the French group—and has posted her photos to flickr as well.
A few folks have asked me questions about pilgrimage tips—what to do, what not to do, where to go, etc. Here are a few tips that might be helpful to those visiting the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa and ‘Akká:
- Spend as much time in the shrines as possible, and attend the evening talks. You’ll probably find that they help you understand the nature of pilgrimage and your role as a pilgrim.
- Make effort to say the long obligatory prayer as much as you can. Make a special effort to say it within the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahji if you can.
- Use your time in the shrines to say the Tablets of Visitation. That’s what they were revealed for and you will find that they will really come alive when you say them in the Shrines.
- Crying is not mandatory, so don’t feel bad if you don’t.
- When visiting, try and stick with a group of six to ten people; that way, it’ll be easier for you to fill up a sherut (communal taxi). Travel by sherut as much as you can, whether within the city or outside; it’s the cheapest way to get around and is reasonably comfortable. Taxi drivers (driving normal-sized taxis) will stop whenever they see you to ask if you need a taxi; tell them that you’re waiting for a sherut. Taxis are ridiculously expensive, sheruts are not. Sheruts usually look like minibuses, and can hold ten people.
- Spend a day in the Old City of ‘Akká if you have the time. We did it and enjoyed it a lot. You should be able to get a map of a walking tour of ‘Akká that you can follow on your own; if you know someone who lives in Haifa who can show you around, that’s even better.
- Use the time spent visiting the Holy Places to call to mind the sufferings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Holy Family.
- Read the pamphlets you received from the Department of Pilgrimage; read them carefully and all the way through. They include a lot of really useful information that you will really be glad you knew.
That’s it for now. I’ve been pretty busy lately, but you should be able to look forward to a continuation of the “post-pilgrimage” series in the next few weeks, sharing more of my impressions of pilgrimage as they relate to my understanding of the Baha’i Writings.