Baha'i culture...art, film, literature

arthra

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"Harkaa Sarvista" is different...

Finnish TV talk show host finds success in unconventional approach

HELSINKI, Finland
9 December 2007 (BWNS)


Television talk shows often use conflict as their formula to win viewers, but a young producer in Finland is making a go of it with a different model.
On his Monday night program, Aram Aflatuni presents a problem, then has a panel of experts try to solve it using consultation and cooperation.
"I don't believe in confrontational journalism," he says. "I do not think that it is an effective way of finding solutions."
His hour-long show - "Härkää Sarvista," or "Grab the Bull by the Horns" - this week wraps up its first season of 15 episodes and has attracted as many as 345,000 viewers. Average viewership was 220,000 - 20 percent of the TV audience for its time period.

In Finland, TV shows often look for confrontation and "sometimes quite aggressive debate," said Juho-Pekka Rantala, a television executive who works on this show and others. "'Härkää Sarvista' is different. It is looking for solutions."

Viewers are invited to submit an issue for consultation. If chosen, the person goes on the air and presents the problem to the panel.

Mr. Aflatuni, 31, is a member of the Baha'i Faith and said he tries to use part of a consultation model used by Baha'is as the starting point for his show.
It is a model that asks participants to remain personally detached from the ideas presented as everyone seeks a single truth or best outcome. No one "owns" or takes credit or blame for any idea offered during the consultation.

Source:

Bahá'í World News Service - Bahá'í International Community - Finnish TV talk show host finds success in unconventional approach
 

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Interview with Eva La Rue CSI Miami star:

PR.com: And you’re a part of the Bahai faith. Is that your religion?
article_attachment_1197153626.jpg
Eva La Rue

Eva La Rue: Yeah. We believe that everybody’s prophets came to teach basically the same word of God. We believe that there is one God, one people, one world and that everybody’s prophet is right and it’s the people that have sort of dogmatized [it] and religion has taken on a totally different meaning. They’re all at war with each other, but it’s the same truthful message. We basically believe that the reason there were different prophets in different parts of the world is because there were no telephones or newspapers. The only way to get your word out would be through human contact, so God put different prophets in different parts of the world so that everybody could have the word of God and that it’s the same spiritual truth.


Source:

Eva La Rue, Star of CSI: Miami, Speaks with PR.com - PR.com
 

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Peoples' Theatre from Germany:

PEOPLE'S THEATER FROM GERMANY GOES INTERNATIONAL

OFFENBACH, Germany, 20 January 2008 (BWNS) -- After six years of
perfecting a technique that combines drama and discussion as a means to
communicate with youth, a German theater group has gone international.

Individuals or agencies in four countries have commissioned People's
Theater to give performances or offer training in the technique, said
Erfan Diebel, one of the administrators of the drama group. In the coming
months, the troupe also expects to perform in at least three
additional nations, he said.

The technique involves a cast of young, amateur actors presenting a
skit that highlights a common problem among youth, such as negative peer
pressure, lack of patience with others, or backbiting. At a critical
moment in the drama, the action is frozen and the audience discusses how
one might respond to the situation.

In Luxembourg, officials at the Ministry of Education think the method
shows enough promise that they commissioned People's Theater to train
17 staff members from various schools around the country, then take a
tour of some of the schools to show the program in action.

"During role play, actual life situations are simulated and
experienced," Patrick Wesquet, a social educator from the ministry, said of the
program. "The player tries to act according to his role. He ...
experiences the feelings and thoughts of the others, learns to accept them in
their roles, and develops empathy."

After the pause in action in the skit and the audience discussion, the
actors, with help from the students, try to act out some of the
suggestions.

"The young people ... recognize themselves in the role and whether or
why their suggestion has contributed to the resolution of the conflict,"
Mr. Wesquet said.

Besides Germany and Luxembourg, countries where People's Theater is
giving performances or providing training include Austria, Liechtenstein,
and Israel. Additional shows are set for the United Kingdom, Serbia,
and Switzerland, Mr. Diebel said.

Mr. Diebel and some of the others involved in the project are members
of the Baha'i Faith and say part of their motivation is to put into
practice the teachings of their religion about social justice and moral
leadership.

MORE DETAILS

Mr. Wesquet of the Education Ministry in Luxembourg noted that the role
of schools in the life of young people seems to be growing.

"More and more frequently, schools are no longer seen as being merely a
place for learning, but also a place for living," he said. "The
teachers and the staff of the school psychological services are able to
assume an increasingly important role alongside the parents."

"The aim of this project is to promote the personal and social skills
of young people," he said.

"During adolescence young people have to cope with a variety of
challenges, such as establishing more mature relationships with their peers,
developing an ethical system of values, practicing socially responsible
behavior, adopting male/female gender roles, emotional independence
from parents and other adults, preparation for marriage, family and a
profession, and acceptance of their own phuysical appearance," he
continued.

"The theater offers a great opportunity to try out these demands in a
'playful' way," he said.

Peter Schumacher, who was involved in bringing People's Theater to
Austria, explains it this way: "Especially during puberty, teenagers tend
to hide their insecurities behind a mask of coolness and arrogance. In a
game situation, however, a young person is totally confronted by
himself and his personality."

"Such an experience is very moving," added Dr. Schumacher, who is the
head of the youth department the Tyrolean Chamber of Labor. The chamber
sponsored a function where Tyrolean school directors were invited to
see People's Theater perform.

Afterwards the school directors asked the chamber to have the drama
group return to Austria for presentations at eight vocational schools, Mr.
Diebel said.

Reaction

Mr. Diebel says there is strong anecdotal evidence that the program is
effective. For example, the group heard from a teacher in Germany a
week after People's Theater had done a drama presentation called "Apple
Pie" that addressed the human quality of patience - the teacher said that
afterwards, whenever the students behaved impatiently, she merely said
the words "Apple Pie" and immediately they corrected their behavior.

"I will keep everything in my head," wrote a youngster from another
school who watched a performance. "It's something that is easy to
imitate."

Another youth described a personal response during the program: "I was
contemplating a lot, and I also raised my hand a lot."

Still another student said, "I like that you stop the skit when there
is a problem, so that we can solve it."

Mr. Diebel said one key to the success of the program is that the
actors are very young - usually between 18 and 25 years old - making it
easier for children and youth to relate to them.

"All of you are very cool," wrote one young fan to the troupe.

Background

People's Theater was started by in 2001 by Erfan Enayati of Offenbach.
He got the concept of stopping the action to allow for audience
discussion from a Russian television program, "The Happy Hippo Show,"
developed by Shamil Fattakhov, a member of the Baha'i Faith who lives in Kazan,
Russia.

Support for People's Theater comes from foundations, schools and the
City and District of Offenbach, along with a host of other organizations,
companies and individuals, Mr. Diebel said.

The performers are young people who volunteer to be a part of the
program for a year, he said.

END



To view the photos and additional features click here:
http://news.bahai.org
 

arthra

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Baha'i artist Darlene Gait

Click to Enlarge Photo courtesy One Moon Gallery/Tony Bounsel - In Esquimalt artist Darlene Gait's paintings and screenprints, prominent animals of the Northwest Coast -bear, eagle, raven, salmon - are depicted from encounters she has had with them in their environment. She incorporates Coast Salish elements to illustrate the interdependence of her culture and the environment.ESQUIMALT, British Columbia - Connection. That's the golden thread woven through all of Esquimalt artist Darlene Gait's paintings and screenprints.

Her art is varied in style as well as subject. ''Spawning,'' an ink and colored-pencil depiction of salmon spawning, brings to mind the work of Musqueam artist Susan Point. Several of Gait's mixed media and acrylics - like ''Alert Bay,'' ''Connections,'' ''Legends'' and ''Wisdom from Above'' - are reminiscent of Tsimshian/Haida/Heiltsuk artist Roy Henry Vickers.

But her work is uniquely personal, inspired by her connection to the environment and wildlife as well as her belief in the oneness of humanity and the beauty of its diversity.

Gait, 39, is as inspired as she is inspirational. One night, in her husband's native Spain, she had a dream about the connectedness of people and other living things. The next morning, she was praying on the balcony of her room and a hawk landed on her head. She and her husband studied the bird, which mimicked their head movements. That encounter led to ''Balance,'' an acrylic on canvas.

''It has always been a difficult challenge to find a balance mentally, physically and spiritually, and it has been a lifelong goal of mine to have that, and I remember this dream I had with the feeling of finding that balance and it was so incredible,'' she wrote about the piece. ''I tried to illustrate that in this painting.''

In her wildlife art, prominent animals of the Northwest Coast - bear, eagle, raven, salmon - are depicted from encounters she has had with them in their environment. She incorporates Coast Salish elements to illustrate the interdependence of her culture and the environment.

In ''Blue Moon,'' Gait honors her maternal grandfather, who died before she had the opportunity to know him.

''I spent a lifetime not knowing who he was,'' she said. ''I felt a huge loss. All I had was an old photograph of his beautiful face when he was a young man. ... I heard he had a really tough life and died a broken man on the streets of Vancouver. I did not know which band he came from or where he was born, and went on a journey to find some knowledge about his life.''

During her journey, she found herself looking out toward his birthplace, one of the islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and she could feel his presence. This experience led to ''Blue Moon.''

The piece shows her grandfather's eyes, in which can be seen a blue moon, representing his journey. Behind him are the islands where he was born and the sea where his ashes were spread. In the sky are eagles, representing the ancestors who are with him now.

To Gait, art is a powerful tool for forgiveness and healing. Another painting, ''Letting Go,'' illustrates that perception.

''I let go all my hatred, sadness and pride, and went on a journey,'' she wrote of the introspective scenic piece. ''On this path I saw many colors and it was marvelous. The mountains, ocean, wind and sky cleansed my soul and I remembered my purpose once again. When I returned home, my people of the earth seemed closer to one another. But they had not changed: just my perceptions.''

Gait has been shaped by her own rich experiences.

Gait started painting at age 10 and sold her first piece when she was 16. She was married at 18 but divorced at 20.

Undeterred by the obstacles that can accompany being a young single parent, she attended college and landed a job as a children's book illustrator in Toronto. She was a book illustrator and graphic designer before opening One Moon Gallery on the Esquimalt Reserve in April 2007.

''When I was in college in Calgary, I had a lot of trouble with men in the art business,'' she said. ''They felt women should not be in the business and they would always make deals with me that were unfair. That changed when I became not afraid to speak out anymore. I have a voice and a mind of my own.''

Her advice to young women: ''If you feel confident about who you are and you ask the Creator for a voice, you're going to get one.''

Through her art she met her husband, Mark Granfar, a collector of her work. They met, dated and married three years later. Like her husband, she is Baha'i, the influence of which is evident in her work. The Baha'i value, among other social tenets, the equality of women and men, recognition of a common origin and unity of purpose of all religions, and spiritual solutions to economic problems.

The Baha'i also emphasize service to others, a practice Gait believes would make a difference in younger people's lives. It's not enough to be Native, she said; young people need to know they have a purpose.

''There has to be spiritual fulfillment,'' she said. ''If we had that, we wouldn't have the problems we have with suicide and abuse.'' She advises young people: ''Be grateful to be alive. Look at the gifts you have. You have so much going for you. Grab it.''

Gait is prolific. Ideas come to her at night; she'll get up and write ideas down and do a rough sketch. She always travels with a camera, and some of her wildlife art is based on photos she took in the field. She is currently working on seven different pieces in her studio, which faces an oceanfront park and is adjacent to a longhouse.

''I think it's important to listen to that inner voice that guides you to the right path in life,'' she wrote on her Web site. ''I see it as my ancestors guiding me and, without it, I would not be where I am today.''

For more information, visit The Art of Darlene Gait.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.
 

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Re: Jack Lenz project the feature film "Mona's Dream":

"Of all the projects on his plate, Lenz is probably most excited about his feature film, Mona's Dream. His script tells the story of Iran's persecution and execution in 1983 of teenager Mona Mahmudnizhad and nine other members of her Baha'i faith. The film, which will star Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), has a projected budget of $7-million to $10-million. He's still seeking a co-production arrangement and some foreign financing."

Read more at

globeandmail.com: Go big or go home

I heard a rumor that Jack Lenz did the music for Passion of the Christ and that Mel Gibson asked Jack Lenz what movie he'd like to make... and he said a movie about Mona.... and the rumor continues that Mel Gibson was going to help make that movie... is that true?
 

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Re: Jack Lenz project the feature film "Mona's Dream":

I heard a rumor that Jack Lenz did the music for Passion of the Christ and that Mel Gibson asked Jack Lenz what movie he'd like to make... and he said a movie about Mona.... and the rumor continues that Mel Gibson was going to help make that movie... is that true?

Can't speak to all of it but yes Jack worked on Passion.... in wikipedia
 

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Baha'is celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha...

Baha'is celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha and prepare for annual fast

SOLANO, Philippines
25 February 2008 (BWNS)


Baha'i children love Ayyam-i-Ha because it's a special period of the year devoted to charity, hospitality, social events, and the giving of gifts.
Because of the leap year, they have an extra day this year. Ayyam-i-Ha extends from Feb. 26 to March 1, so the added day of Feb. 29 comes during this time.
In Solano, a town of 50,000 people north of Manila, the children are used to filling the period with family and community activities. A visit to a home for the elderly, an evening for public prayers, a day of fun in the park, singing for the inmates at a prison - these are typical activities, said Holly Celeste, a local Baha'i.
"Basically during this period we focus on our children," she said. "This is usually done by friends and family coming together to do service-oriented activity with the children. The idea is for the children to come together and learn what fun being of service can be."
Similarly, Baha'is around the world celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha with prayers and special activities, which are a prelude and preparation for the annual fasting period, March 2 to 20.
"Ayyam-i-Ha" means literally the "Days of Ha" ("ha" is an Arabic letter), and in the Baha'i calendar they form the intercalary days that fill out the 365 or 366 days of the solar year. The Baha'i calendar consists of 19 months of 19 days each, giving 361 days, requiring the addition of four or five more days.
Children in Solano, in the Philippines, enjoy music during last year's Ayyam-i-Ha festivities at the local Baha'i center.


The calendar was established by the Bab, the prophet who was the forerunner of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah. But it was Baha'u'llah who specified that the Days of Ha should be inserted in the calendar just before the month of fasting.
Baha'u'llah said of Ayyam-i-Ha: "It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name."
 

arthra

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Samples of Baha'i music

The thing about Baha'i music and chanting is that is a dynamic process..It is open to all styles and forms of chanting and there is no one style that is restricted or confined to the Baha'i Faith..
Some are comfortable with Gospel style hymns because they come form that tradition... Baha'is from Islamic tradition use chanting...so we have a rich mix of different styles... Seals and Crofts had folk ballads.. and so on.

Here are some samples:
[URL="http://youtube.com/watch?v=JnLZ1ufk1UQ&feature=related"]http://youtube.com/watch?v=JnLZ1ufk1UQ&feature=related[/URL]
[URL="http://youtube.com/watch?v=YIjFAtLzKv8&feature=related"]http://youtube.com/watch?v=YIjFAtLzKv8&feature=related[/URL]
<A href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=CX_aqAZn-9Q&feature=related" target=_blank>http://youtube.com/watch?v=CX_aqAZn-9Q&feature=related
 

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Interview with Omid Djalili, Baha'i

The Scotsman



A mixed gag - Omid Djalili interview








TH1_93200851omid.jpg

Omid Djalili: 'I think you should always keep it light and entertaining'








By CLAIRE BLACK





Omid Djalili, the Anglo-Iranian comedian, has had an unconventional career so far – he is a revered comic, has his own successful sketch show and has appeared in numerous Hollywood blockbusters, but the BBC has labelled him as the stand-up whose name you might not know. CLAIRE BLACK finds out why
'A LOT of Iranians would like me to give a lecture with slides – like I'm working for the Iranian Tourist Board," says comedian Omid Djalili from his hotel room in Ipswich. "People don't understand that, in this country, if you pick on certain cultural things and show you can laugh at yourself, then people will warm to your culture. When people see Billy Connolly and he talks about some kind of essential and weird Scottish behaviour, they recognise it, laugh and then say, 'I love Scotland. Oh, actually, I'm half Scottish.' They become proud of it.'"

Britain's Anglo-Iranian comedian is talking about his brand of easily digestible ethno-cultural comedy. He's halfway through a national tour, which includes Edinburgh tonight, and he has already been chatting to Johnny Vaughn ("completely mad") and Denise Van Outen ("very tolerant") this morning and it's only just after 9am.

Djalili sounds pretty chipper and he's got every right to be. Watched by almost four million BBC1 viewers – and that was against X Factor and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here – The Omid Djalili Show was a success. So much so that he's been asked to write a second series of the comedy sketch show. "It's all about getting a second series," he tells me with obvious pleasure. The tour has enough 'sold-out' signs peppered on the website to reassure him that people still want to see him in the flesh as well as on the box.

"This is the show I'm most happy with," he says. "It's not the pinnacle of what I've ever done and it's certainly not the pinnacle of what I'm capable of, but it's the most enjoyable show I've done in years.

"I keep doing stand-up because you just hope that you can get better and find the voice that you want. You have to get back on the road and try things out. I'm amazed that I have about an hour and 20 minutes of brand new stuff that's been getting fantastic feedback."

Djalili has had a funny old career. He's an Edinburgh Festival stalwart with two Spirit of the Fringe awards and a string of sell-out shows to his name. His last two visits to Edinburgh were in 2002 "when I got the record number of five-star reviews (six]", and 2005, "when I got the record number of two-star reviews, which I'm equally proud of".

But the BBC still found it necessary to prefix the publicity material for his BBC1 show with the line: "The stand-up whose name you might not know." Maybe it's because he hasn't appeared on the circuit with the same ubiquity as some of his comedy chums. Maybe it's because we don't remember foreign-sounding names. Actually, that sounds a bit like a Djalili gag.

It might also be that Djalili is an actor, too. In fact, he was an actor long before he told jokes for a living. With roles in The Mummy, Gladiator and the James Bond movie The World is Not Enough, Djalili describes himself as the "perfect, ethnic, Everyman, bit-part specialist". As far as the comedy goes, he says Edinburgh and Glasgow are his two favourite cities to play. "I think for any comedian to come and get big laughs from a really tough, discerning, comedy-literate audience, it is the biggest stamp of approval," he says. "I always get a bit nervous about it, but they're the gigs that I'm looking forward to the most."

Djalili's spent the last 13 years honing his act. He jokes about everything from al-Qaeda birthday parties to suicide bombing, with a bit of bellydancing thrown in for good measure. And whatever controversies and eyebrows have been raised, Djalili feels like he's really hitting his stride.

"The main theme of this live show is Britishness because our British heritage and identity has been outraged recently whether by British suicide bombers or the Archbishop of Canterbury talking about Sharia law," he says. "To have a second-generation British-Iranian talking about Britishness in a live show is quite an interesting way to approach things."

Djalili has been criticised by some for losing his edge to satisfy the mainstream audience, but there are plenty of people who still find him challenging. "I had loads of complaints about my TV show even before it began," he says. "People obviously thought, 'How dare they give an Iranian weirdo a TV show on BBC1!' Some said that they were no longer paying their licence fee because time was being given to a fundamentalist. They didn't even know who I was.

"I think I've been criticised for being too entertaining. When I did the Perrier show in 2002 some people said, 'Oh you're brave tackling the whole terrorism thing and all the issues, but you could go further.' And yes, I think that's true. I feel as I get older and more confident I do go further, but I think you should always keep it light and entertaining. My reaction to some people who go on and just do political stuff is, 'For God's sake, just tell us a joke.' When people know there's going to be something silly they allow you the space to be political.

"I've been a bit more forthcoming in this show with my viewpoint and I've got concrete suggestions about what to do about terrorism," he says, and, for a moment, I'm not sure whether he's joking or not. What kind of ideas I prompt tentatively? "Well, I don't want to give it away. You need to come and see the show. But, for example, I don't think we should call terrorists 'terrorists'. I think that's a huge mistake. I understand the power of words and ideas as I get older and as I become more responsible as a stand-up. I think the media can really help by changing that syntax and vernacular."

Sociologist or comedian? For Djalili it's a mix of the two. He says that he takes an academic approach to his comedy: writing his routine, learning his lines and even doing warm-up exercises before he goes on stage. "I have this habit of stumbling over words, and over important words so I've been doing warm-ups," he says. "Tongue exercises and singing scales like a real ponce. No other comedian does that."

Djalili is the son of a reporter ("the funniest man I've ever known") and a dressmaker, but his parents also ran a guesthouse. Rather than being a joker as a child, Djalili says he was an observer. "We had basically all of Iranian society coming through the doors. The only way to cope with it when you feel like you've got no privacy in your own house is to keep things light and funny. My dad always did that. He's a genuine eccentric. I'm not like that. I'm a very normal, very together, balanced individual."

Djalili's cuddly cultural dislocation routine – politics offset with plenty of silly dancing – may disappoint some, but he has never been happier with what he does. "I will actually humiliate myself as much as I can for the benefit of the audience," he says. "People always expect a big finish and it used to be disco dancing, but now I do this dance therapy thing which is very silly and makes me look like a clown.

"I'm in my 13th year of comedy and it's only now that I understand it all. Comedian friends of mine have said they always thought I was just a good performer, but now they see me as a proper stand-up.

"Coming from people like Boothby Graffoe and Ian Stone, I think that's good. It's like I've made it into the club. It has taken me a long time, but I've finally arrived."

• Omid Djalili, The Playhouse, Edinburgh, tonight at 8pm, £19, 0870 606 3424 and March 12, 8pm, Aberdeen Music Hall 01224 641122.

A FUNNY OLD LIFE

• Omid Djalili, 42, was born in the Chelsea area of London to Iranian parents who had settled in London in 1957. His journalist father was a contributor to Iran's top newspapers and a translator for the Iranian embassy. The family raised Djalili in the Baha'i faith, which he still follows.

• He graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in English and theatre arts in 1988, and embarked on a series of odd jobs after returning to London, where he was reportedly rejected by 16 drama schools.

• He met his future wife, Annabel Knight, an actress and playwright at a friend's wedding and the couple moved to the Czech Republic
via a cultural exchange program, where they became involved in the experimental theatre scene.

• The couple returned to the UK and Knight was instrumental in boosting her husband's career after writing A Strange Bit of History, the one-man play which garnered critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1993.

• In 1995 Djalili returned to the Fringe, this time with stand-up comedy, and gained rave reviews with Short, Fat Kebab Shop Owner's Son.

• As well as his comedy success, Djalili has had numerous film and television roles. His film credits include Gladiator, The Mummy, Spy Game, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

• He recently picked up an international film award for Best Supporting Actor in Casanova.

• The couple currently live in London with their three children, aged 14, 12 and eight.


The full article contains 1655 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 09 March 2008 8:10 PM

Source:

A mixed gag - Omid Djalili interview - The Scotsman
 

arthra

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Kahlil Fong soul singer from Hong Kong a Baha'i:

From Wikipedia:


Khalil Fong (Traditional Chinese:方大同, born July 14, 1983) is a soul singer and songwriter from Hong Kong. He was born in Hawaii and his family moved to Shanghai when he was 6. His father (an American-born Chinese from San Francisco, California) wanted Khalil to learn more about Chinese culture. 6 years later, they moved to Guangzhou and lived for about 2 years. Afterwards, they moved to Hong Kong. When he was 16, he sent demos, which he had written, to music producers. 4 years later, Warner Music Hong Kong finally recruited him as their producer. Khalil is a Bahá'í.

and a here's a Youtube:

YouTube - Khalil Fong - Southen Sound
 

arthra

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Indian Golf Trophy has Baha'i Lotus Temple:

Subject: Interesting


BANGALORE The EMAAR-MGF Ladies Masters trophy, a stunning piece of art, was unveiled on Friday at the Eagleton Resort clubhouse.

Senior officials of Ladies European Tour, golf in DUBAI, the promoters and organisers of the first Ladies European Tour (LET) event ever to be held in India, and Women's Golf Association of India were present at the ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Mohamed Buamaim, vice-chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAI, said: 'The trophy has this Indian feel to it as it is designed in the shape of Delhi's world-famous Baha'i Lotus Temple.

'Since the tournament is being held India, it's only appropriate that the winner should return with fond memories of India,' said Buamaim, who was flanked by, Alex Armas, executive director of the LET, Champika Sayal, secretary-general of Women's Golf Association of India, and Anjani Desai, the senior lady of Indian women's golf.


ShowLetter

 

arthra

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Another article about Omid...

Omid Djalili: How many other small, fat, bald men get their own shows?’

</EM>
Omid Djalili is one of Britain’s most popular stand-up comics, as well as a star of film and TV. Not bad for an Iranian boy who failed his A levels – three times – and was rejected by 16 drama schools


http://www.independent.co.uk/indepe...This=true&TB_iframe=true&height=500&width=400

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-e...-men-get-their-own-showsrsquo-803314.html#aaa
Interview by Deborah Ross
Saturday, 5 April 2008

When I arrive at the comedian Omid Djalili's house in nicely tree-lined East Sheen, south- west London, it's his wife, Annabel, who answers the door. Omid's just popped out for milk, she says. He'll only be a tick. They've just returned from a few days in Devon with the children – they have three; the oldest is 15 – and the fridge is empty. Come in, come in. Cup of tea? She puts the kettle on. We chat for a bit. She is lovely; very pretty and smiley. Then Omid returns. "Hello, Omid," I say. "Milk?" asks Annabel hopefully. Omid opens his plastic carrier. There is apple juice. There is a newspaper. There is no milk. "I forgot," he says. "Oh, Omid," we both say in the way women do when they wish to capture centuries of female disappointment. Omid looks sheepish and smiles that smile, the one that says: "Please don't hit me, clever ladies who would get milk if they were sent out for it."

I am minded to stay in the kitchen with Annabel to talk about why men cannot do the one simple thing you have asked them to do (it's not my favourite subject – I'm just determined to get to the bottom of it one day) but Omid is ushering me into the living room with my black tea. That is: tea, which is black, there being no milk. Nice.
The house is 1920s and big but not fancy, with a living room that's all old rugs and comfy sofas. Omid says he doesn't do fancy. "I don't have extravagant tastes. I don't buy fancy cars. I'm not ostentatious. Buying a nice house in East Sheen was really pushing it for me." Having grown up without money, he now worries about his kids growing up with it, worries that they're becoming "bloody rich twats". The other day he overheard them talking about the houses they would like to live in when they were older and so he said: "Not with my money, you won't." He adds: "I saw my parents work desperately hard."
He settles on to a sofa, feet up, yawns, then yawns again. I'm keeping you up, I say. He says he's sorry, he's knackered. He's mid-tour plus has just driven the four hours back from Devon. He says that once, returning from a gig in Liverpool, he was so tired while driving down the motorway he hallucinated pterodactyls flying around his head that he had to flap away. He was eventually stopped by the police who asked him: "How fast do you think you were going, sir?" He said: "100mph?" No, they told him, "you were going 10mph in the middle lane while slapping yourself." They were nice, though, the cops. "They sat in the car with me while I had a little rest." He is amazed that "more comedians don't die on the road". I say I'm amazed more can't remember milk. Honestly, we send you out to do one simple thing...
He is a big man, hefty, but not Channel 5 freakomentary fat, although the way he speaks about himself you'd think he was. When I ask him if he still has a personal trainer he says: "I have to, I'm so heavy." I tell him he's not that heavy. Come off it. He disagrees: "I'm deceptively heavy. I'm 15-and-a-half stone, four stone overweight." He's not sure what the problem is, but thinks it might be food. "I eat too much on tour, because of the stress. It's comfort eating. It's soporific." What can't you resist more than anything? "A bowl of chips." He does like to cook, yes, and particularly Iranian dishes "full of walnuts and pomegranates".
Born in London to Iranian parents, he is that rare thing: a comedian in the West who, having a Middle Eastern background, can tell jokes about the Middle East. But although culture and ethnicity – as well as some wonderfully silly dancing – are at the core of his act, I do think he is mostly funny just because he is just funny. I like his joke about the Middle Eastern equivalent of our knock-knock jokes. "It's the Floomph, Floomph joke. Floomph, Floomph? That's someone knocking on a tent." That said, he often will make a point: "An asylum seeker arrives at Dover. 'Why are you here?' asks the customs officer. 'My house was bombed,' comes the reply. 'No, why are you really here.' 'Um... because I've always wanted to work in a chip shop in Basingstoke?'"
Success is good, and the money is good, but he's not in it for the money or the fame. "For me, it's always been about respect." He's failed a lot, and has been rejected a lot. He took three A-levels three times and failed them all. He was basically booted out of school. He was refused a place by 16 – 16! – drama schools. He says he's had to fight all the way to get to where he is with his sell-out tours, film roles and his own BBC sketch show. "How many other small, fat, bald men get their own TV shows?" he asks. "Kojak?" I suggest. "Apart from Kojak," he says.
One of his most recent film roles was in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which I could not make head nor tail of. What was it about, Omid? He says he has no idea. He took the part because he was told he'd get to do a scene with Keith Richards. He adds: "I didn't understand the script or even the scene I was in! I'd ask the others: do you know what this is about? They'd say: no idea. Just shut up and do it." He is most proud of his performance as Picasso in the film Modigliani, although wishes he had been given more time to lose weight. "I was Picasso in his porkadelic phase."
His parents moved to London in 1957 – Omid was born eight years later – where his father, Ahmad, worked as a journalist for the Iranian newspaper Kayhan. However, this career came to a sudden end with the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the new regime's official campaign of persecution against the followers of the Baha'i faith, which include Omid and his family. To earn money, his parents turned their small Kensington mansion-block flat into a sort of pension for sick Iranians who had travelled to Harley Street for medical treatment.
"Iranians don't like staying in hotels. They want to stay with families. So my parents would take them in and cook for them and translate for them and take them to their appointments." Omid rarely, if ever, bought friends home from school. "Too embarrassing and too complicated. They'd want to know why a sick old man was wandering around in his pyjamas at four in the afternoon and I'd have to explain." He didn't have his own bedroom – "bedrooms were money" – so slept in the lounge. When I ask about siblings he says: "I have an older sister and brother who shared a room and escaped as quickly as they could." His mother, Parveneh, was also a dressmaker. What was her style? "Very flamboyant, very few clients," he says.
He went to trendy Holland Park school which is where, he thinks, he first learnt that being funny could feel really, really good. In his first year he wrote a sketch for his classmates that his teacher suggested he perform in front of the whole school. The sketch involved a monster lying under a blanket that no one could look at because the monster was so ugly that if you did look at him, you'd die. He primed a few kids to come up on stage, lift a corner of the blanket, then scream and drop dead. He then asked the deputy head to come and have a look but when the deputy head did so, the monster died, "because the head was so ugly". The sixth formers, he says, "roared with laughter and I felt like a rock star".
Alas, Omid did not make it to the sixth form himself. He was expelled, although never formally. The head – perhaps the deputy had been promoted and didn't think he was that ugly – just said: "Please don't come back." Why? "I was told I was disruptive. I was a real tearaway. I'd run into the staff room, take down my trousers, play the piano and then run out again." He went to some kind of college to take his A levels (English, Economics, French) which he thought he could do in a year. He could not. "I failed in January, took them again in June, and then again the next January." All in all, he has worked out that "I failed 49 separate papers". Omid, I say, you're obviously a smart guy, so what is with all this failing, already?
He says it was probably his chaotic family life; he could never get down to any studying at home because he was constantly being asked to drop everything and go and pick someone up at the airport, or drop everything so he could go and translate for someone. Your parents weren't interested in your education? No, he says. I say that's weird. Usually immigrant parents are mad for their children's education; mad for them to become doctors and lawyers so the whole family can feel somehow legitimised. This is true for some, he says, but not for him. Weirder still, he says, he comes from a background of doctors and lawyers on both sides. There was an actor though; his mother's brother. "He married a Mormon, went to live in Utah, and had a small part in Starsky and Hutch. Unfortunately, he died young, but when I said I wanted to be an actor, she encouraged it." And your dad? "He paid no attention until I started making money."
He didn't take his failures lightly. When his A-level results would come in the post he would implore: "Please let it be an A, maybe a B, and it would always say 'unclassified'." Each time, he'd get the results investigated but "they were always right". In the end, "I was so desperate to go to university I lied on my UCCA form, putting down Bs and Cs instead of Es and Fs." This led him to an English and Theatre Studies degree at the University of Ulster. When he graduated, pretty much top of his year, he confessed but was not run out of town. "They said that I obviously deserved to be there."
....
Luckily, at around this time, he met Annabel (Knight, an actress and playwright) and together they moved to the Czech Republic where they became involved in experimental theatre. Their company, In Theatre, was highly rated and travelled extensively. "I did think: this is it. This is what my life is going to be." But he felt he had to come back to London in 1995 when his mother died because "my father took it very hard, and was lonely". What does Ahmad think of his TV, movie and stand-up star of a son? "He does like the fame by association. He's 84 and says he has a lot of women in their sixties and seventies flirting with him."
I say I don't see where the stand-up comes into all this. He says it was Annabel, who just kind of saw it in him, and persuaded him to put something together for the Edinburgh Festival. You have her to thank for all this yet you can't remember to get milk? Omid, you should be ashamed. "I got apple juice!" he protests.
Anyway, our time is nearly up. He's got to get to Salisbury for a gig. Omid kindly gives me a lift to Richmond station, wearing a peaked cap that makes him look all cheeky. He says his life seems fantastic to him now, as if it is happening to someone else. He may be considerably more vulnerable than he cares to let on. Still, this is no excuse for not doing that one simple thing.
Never is, never will be.
Omid Djalili is appearing at Salford Lowry on 11 and 12 April and at Hammersmith Apollo on 18 and 19 April. For details see www.omidnoagenda.com.

* Deborah Ross has been shortlisted for Interviewer of the Year at the British Press Awards.
 

arthra

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Music a ladder for your souls...

Filling hearts with music from the soul

May 21, 2008 - 2:49pm About 1,200 people came to hear 200 singers from the United States and four countries at the second-annual Bahá’í Choral Concert May 18 at the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill.

choralphoto.jpg

Choral ConcertThe concert was the culmination of three days of hard work by Van Gilmer, the internationally celebrated director of music at the Bahá’í Temple, and the singers, who flocked into town three days before the concert for a series of intense practice sessions and reconnecting with friends.

Cheryl Sensabaugh of Hamilton, Ontario, said, "It is such a wonderful thing being here to sing the praises. It renews my spirit. I just love singing for Van. He brings the best out in everybody."

The audience seemed to agree, as they listened to the heavenly voices fill the auditorium of the temple at its 12:30 p.m. Sunday devotions program.

Following the indoor concert, which lasted more than an hour, the choir performed a series of gospel-tinged tunes outside on the steps of the temple. At the first-annual festival, this “encore” performance was spontaneous. It was so well-received that it is now part of the program.

The singers were the first to be moved by three days of practice and preparation. "I've just spent three days in Paradise," said Sam Godard of Wilmette.

"I was so moved—I couldn’t stop crying. ... It’s not just the beauty of the music. The choir was so in love with each other," said Pamela Brode of Durham, N.C. “We’re here because of our love for Bahá'u'lláh, but that led to a feeling of love that the choir members felt for each other. It’s the spirit that’s so powerful.”

Karl Slater, a Bahá’í and singer from Downers Grove, Ill., said he was reminded of Bahá'u'lláh’s pertinent words: “We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high.”

 

Dawud

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I love the picture! At first I thought it was a Christian church, but then I realized, I've been there! It's the Baha'i temple in Wilmette! :)
 

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"Tsehai lives learning" receives honor:

ETHIOPIAN CHILDREN'S TV SHOW RECEIVES HONOR




ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 12 June 2008 (BWNS) --

"Tsehai Loves Learning,"
an Amharic-language educational television show that is produced and
broadcast in Ethiopia, received an award at the Prix Jeunesse
International 2008, the premiere festival recognizing outstanding children's
television programming. The event is held every two years in Munich,
Germany; the award was presented on 4 June.

The program is the brainchild of Bruktawit Tigabu and Shane Etzenhouser
of Addis Ababa, a married couple who are both Baha'is. The show --
designed for preschool children and featuring a hand puppet named Tsehai
who is a giraffe -- is styled after classic children's programs such as
"Sesame Street."

The show won the Prix Jeunesse Next Generation Prize for an entry that
is "inspirational, innovative, and inspired by a great idea" but that
was produced "under difficult circumstances."

The prize brings a monetary award of 6,000 euros and a year of
mentoring from the sponsors, which include the Australian Children's Television
Foundation, the BBC, Disney Germany, KRO (Dutch Public Broadcasting),
Nickelodeon International, and ZDF (German Television Network).

"Winning an award at the Prix Jeunesse is considered the highest honor
in children's media," Ms. Tigabu said.

"For many of Ethiopia's children, the show is the closest thing to
early childhood education they have ever received," Mr. Etzenhouser noted.

"The Baha'i writings have been a major inspiration for us," he
continued. "The writings on the education of children and on service were what
inspired us to make this program. We also relied heavily on Baha'i
prayers and writings to uplift us whenever we've run into difficulties with
the show or whenever we've gotten discouraged. ... We don't have a
background in television, so the tasks and responsibility inherent in
what we are trying to do are enormous."

In a statement about the award to "Tsehai Loves Learning," Prix
Jeunesse said: "The jury was hugely impressed by the program's ability to talk
to children, to be creative as well as communicative, on an extremely
limited budget. ... We all felt that 'Tsehai Loves Learning' was
inspired by a great idea born out of the needs of its audience - which after
all is the basis of all great TV."

"Tsehai Loves Learning" went on the air in September 2006 with new
10-minute episodes debuting every two weeks for repeated broadcasting. The
show is currently on hiatus.




To view the photos and additional features click here:
http://news.bahai.org
 

Dawud

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Cool :) I think I've seen something about them before in the American Baha'i.
 
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