A different way of life

G Shoghitas, wife Rijisha, son Shyamthejas and daughter Nandana Das

TO all appearances, G Shoghitas, wife Rijisha, and children would pass off as an ordinary Malayali family. There is nothing unusual in their way of dressing or speaking.

But step into the house and you can find a room with just a carpet on the floor. A set of prayer books are in the corner. Shoghitas and family are not Hindu, Christian, Muslim or any other common religion but Baha’i. July 9 was one of the nine holy days of the Baha’i calender, the day in which Ba’b, the manifestation of God for the Bahai’s, was martyred.

The members of the 350-odd community in Kochi gathered at Shoghitas’ house at Pallimukku, which is also the Bahai centre of Kochi, for a prayer meeting recently.

Being Baha’i has never posed a problem for him, according to Shoghitas. But his decision to convert was initially met with violent opposition from his family. They relented at the end, and now his mother is a Bahá’í.

Shoghitas’s wife was Hindu but familiar with the Bahá’í religion. Their marriage was conducted in the community hall- a simple ceremony involving a prayer and a declaration.

The difference between Bahá’í and other newly found religions is that Bahá’í has been recognised by the government, and can be entered under ‘religion’ in one’s SSLC book and other identification documents.

{josquote}The Lotus Temple at Delhi, is the only monument we visit on a pilgrimage.{/josquote}

“We don’t try to convert people or hold campaigns for spreading the religion. Probably that’s why not many people are familiar with it,” says Shoghitas. “But even today, people are getting converted out of their own wish, mostly on hearing about it through friends and relatives.”

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