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Unveiling of the Design

On 21 March 2018, the design for the National Bahá’í House of Worship of Papua New Guinea (PNG) was unveiled at the House of Worship Site in Port Moresby, the nation’s capital. The House of Worship is one of two National Houses of Worship to be built in the world in the coming years, signifying a new milestone for the Bahá’í world community.

To mark the occasion, some five hundred people gathered to honour this unprecedented occasion. Traditional music and dance from representatives of various regions of the country imbued the celebration with joy and excitement. A group from Madina village, home of the first indigenous Bahá’í in PNG, performed a sacred dance to mark the occasion.

The House of Worship will be prominently located within the district of Waigani. It has seating capacity for 350 and will be funded entirely by the local and international Bahá’í community.

 

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Worship and Service

The House of Worship combines two inseparable aspects of Bahá’í life: worship and service. It is to serve as a universal place of worship, free from rituals and ceremonies, open to all inhabitants of PNG, irrespective of religion, background, ethnicity or gender. In addition to being a place for prayer, its aim is to be a collective centre of society for promoting bonds of unity and cordial affection. It is to be a focal point for community-building activities that promotes unity through free participation in acts of prayer and service while in a serene environment. This coherence between worship and service is a defining characteristic of Bahá’í Houses of Worship the world over.

Design Inspiration

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The architectural team composed of indigenous architect, Henry Lape, and Saeed Granfar, was supported by their Project Team in collaboration with Bahá’í institutions.

The search for a universal design theme for the House of Worship in a country with more than 700 distinct cultural groups posed a profound challenge. However, the striking and beautiful designs of Papua New Guinean art and architecture presented themselves as a vast body of inspiration. The image which stood out for the architects as a point of unison was that of the art of weaving.

The architects reflected that in traditional village life and in urban households alike, woven surfaces and objects are found in abundance and, for many, represent ‘home'. The weave finds expression in the make-up of the temple dome, with 72 strands spiraling upwards from the earth, light filtering between them, merging at the point of unity, the zenith marked by The Greatest Name.

The architects’ reflections also touched on the House of Worship as a space where the people of PNG can unite in the worship of God and find inspiration to serve humanity together. “The craft of weaving is analogous to the process of building unity in diversity. Individual strands come together to form something infinitely stronger than the object’s constituent parts, and the whole draws on the contributions of each individual strand.”

The nine gable-roofed entrances reflect a traditional structure that is associated with the sacred throughout several major regions of the country. The form of the nine entrance canopies was inspired by the distinctly Papua New Guinean Spirit House (Haus Tambaran), a sacred space traditionally used for ceremonial purposes or to house special culturally significant artefacts.

Our Wish

It is the hope of the architects of the House of Worship and the Bahá’í community of PNG, that the design of the House of Worship would reinforce in the people of PNG a profound sense of pride in their rich cultural tapestry, the most diverse in the world, and that the design is seen as a worthy tribute to these cultures.

Above all, they are confident that the prayers and reflections, within the walls of the House of Worship and beyond them, will inspire and sustain pure and goodly deeds dedicated to the ongoing spiritual and material advancement of PNG.

“It shall become a centre wherein the spirits are gladdened and the hearts are attracted to the Abhá (Spiritual) Kingdom”.

- Bahá'i Holy Writings