Bahai Temple in Uganda (1)
In 1951, Uganda became one of the earliest Bahai communities in East Africa. PHOTO/COURTESY

In Uganda, the Bahai Temple, also known as the Mashriq I’-Adhkar, serves as a spiritual gathering place for people from all over the world.

The Bahai Temple now in Uganda, also known as the Mashriq I’-Adhkar, is a house of worship that serves as a spiritual gathering place for people from all over the world. 

Uganda became a Bahai community in 1951, making it one of the earliest in Eastern Africa.

In Uganda, the Bahai Temple was built between 1958 and 1961 on Kikaya hill, 3 kilometres (3 miles) from Kampala on Gayaza road.

It is situated on 52 acres of land, stands 124 feet tall, has a 44-foot diameter, an interior diameter of 84 feet, a circumference of 265 feet, and a 55-hectare compound. 

It was the African continent’s first Bahai house of worship and has become a well-known landmark in Kampala due to its natural setting of beautiful fruit trees, flowers, and the path leading to the dome.

Each continent has a single Bahai Temple, and Uganda is Africa’s spiritual heart for the Bahai, with the Mother Temple in Kampala and over ten Bahai centres spread across the country. 

It is estimated to have a following of 1,000 people. 

Uganda’s Bahai Temple is the only one in Africa, with seven others located in the United States of America, India, Panama, Chile, Germany, Australia, and Samoa.

The Bahai faith was founded in 1844 by Baha’u’llah, an Iranian whose name means God of glory and who wrote about the Bahai faith. 

According to his writings, heaven and hell are not physical locations but states of being attained when someone does something good or bad, and according to the Bahai, heaven is the presence of spiritual qualities, whereas hell is the absence of these qualities or imperfection. 

Bahai Temple has a unique architectural design that stands tall in the centre of the green conical dome shape made of tiny glazed mosaic tiles from Italy. 

The temple is supported by nine large pillars and 27 smaller pillars. 

Bahai temple faith founder (1)
An Iranian named Baha’u’llah founded the Bahai faith in 1844 and wrote about the faith. His name means God of glory. PHOTO/Wikimedia

The Bahai Temple has nine doors, each representing one of the nine ways or religions in which Bahai followers believe in their messengers, and the doors are always open during prayer and meditation sessions during which followers speak to embrace God’s nature. 

The Bahai Temple holds a minimum of three daily prayers in which people gather to worship God beneath this dome, which symbolizes his divine unifying force. 

The Temple does not have a set day of the week for meetings as stipulated by Bahai holy law; therefore, it is up to Bahai followers to choose the day that is most convenient for them, but the followers in Kampala go on Sundays in groups of over 100.

The temple is usually packed on special occasions, such as the two-day commemoration of Baha’u’llah and Bab’s births in October or November. 

These two men are significant figures in the Bahai faith

Additionally, it issues declaration cards to new converts and children turning 15 years old, rather than baptizing them as other religions do. 

During prayer, the holy scriptures of the Bahai faith and other religions may be read in any language inside the house of worship, without sermons or musical instruments being played.

Various countries contributed various building materials to the construction of the Bahai Temple in Uganda

Belgium contributed lower roof tiles, Germany contributed coloured glass, steel and window frame fittings from the United Kingdom, and timber and branches for making doors and walls of pre-cast stone quarried in Uganda. 

The Bahai Temple’s entrance is adorned with flower gardens, giving it a one-of-a-kind architectural design based on a spiritual vision.

The interior of the Bahai Temple, similar to other religions, features a raised platform, three rows of assembled wooden pews facing one side of the circular temple, lighting provided by the multi-coloured enormous glass plane windows, and no pictures or statues because Bahais believe that God is the source of all glory.

Due to the temple’s quietness, freshness, and peaceful environment, visitors fall in love with prayer the first time they enter. 

However, there are some guidelines to follow, including the following: the temple is open every day to anyone and welcomes everyone regardless of religion, as its primary goal is to promote religious unity among people, taking photos inside the temple is not permitted, and phones must be turned off or used in silence.

Location

Bahai Temple is located on Kikaaya hill in Kanyanya, approximately 3 kilometres north of Kampala and approximately 7 kilometres along Gayaza road. 

To get to Bahai Temple, you take a taxi from the park, exit at the Gaz fuel station in Kanyanya, and get a Bodaboda to take you to Bahai Temple on the hill.

Bahai Temple in Kampala location (1)
The Bahai Temple is situated on Kikaaya hill in Kanyanya, approximately 3 kilometres north of Kampala along the Gayaza road. PHOTO/Bahai’s Blog

Activities at Bahai Temple

At the Bahai Temple, various activities take place, including the following:

Class sessions for children

This is where children from neighbouring communities and schools learn about the Bahai faith. 

Learn about the Bahai faith writings, which affirm that spiritual education is at the heart of any educational process that results in human spiritual transformation. 

Bahai adherents believe that each child is unique and endowed with God-given abilities, and thus teach a variety of subjects, including memorization of quotations, storytelling, songs, art, and games. 

At the Bahai Temple, children are taught the spirit of kindness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, unity, love, justice, the oneness of God, humanity, religion, and oneness with their religion or tribe, all of which are applied to their daily lives and aid in their spiritual growth.

Junior youth classes

Some youth between the ages of 11 and 14 camp at the Bahai Temple and participate in or are involved in youth classes that help them develop their spiritual intellectual capacities. 

The youth are taught to make moral choices, comprehend the spiritual code of conduct, but put the spiritual principles into action, as well as express their power through drama, art and craft, and singing, among other forms of expression.

Study circles

The Bahai community has developed a series of courses aimed at assisting individuals in developing a conscious basis for responding to their community’s needs. 

Study circles can be conducted in small groups with the assistance of a tutor. 

The courses are divided into three units, the first of which is an introduction to the Bahai writings, including why followers should read them, the second of which is prayer, in which they learn the benefits of prayer and why they should pray, and the third of which is life and death, in which they learn the purpose of life, the nature of the soul, and the condition of the soul after death, among other things. 

These courses assist individuals in learning how to apply Bahai teachings in their daily lives and communities, strategies for improving their spiritual conditions, and how to comprehend and reflect on the topics or units through interaction with God’s word.

Devotional gatherings or meetings

This is an activity in which individuals pray together to strengthen the Bahai faith’s unity. Neighbours or families living in the same building will gather to pray together. 

Stories of different individuals are shared and music is played depending on the interests of different individuals. 

Other activities

Bahai Temple also engages in other activities such as sensitization and awareness-raising about the Bahai faith among local communities at the level of local councils, engaging the community in various activities that promote peace, and developing social facilities around the temple by the temple’s administrators, with the temple planning to build schools and other centres on the Bahai Temple grounds.

Bahai Temple is an excellent location for family visits, picnics, praise, and worship visitors to enjoy a peaceful, fresh environment filled with beautiful trees and green gardens for relaxation, a break from the noisy city, bird watching, and nature walks in the gardens, among other activities that provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Last but not least, for an all-inclusive tour experience in Uganda, view our guide to White water raftingBungee JumpingVisit Mount MuhaburaGorillas in UgandaSsese Islands, Cost of Gorilla TrekkingMurchison Falls National ParkLake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.