A woman goes down in prayer during the unveiling of the Baha'i temple in Matunda on Sunday 15 April 2018. The temple is expected to be completed in October 2019. DENNIS LUBANGA/ NATION MEDIA GROUPA woman goes down in prayer during the unveiling of the Baha'i temple in Matunda on Sunday 15 April 2018. The temple is expected to be completed in October 2019. DENNIS LUBANGA/ NATION MEDIA GROUP
By DENNIS LUBANGA, @lubangadenno [email protected]

A new temple that will accommodate worshipers from all religions is under construction in Matunda, Kakamega County.

The ‘House of Worship’ will cost Sh100 million.

Upon completion, the temple which is located in Luanda Village, Likuyani sub-county, will be among the five Baha’i temples constructed in the world, signifying a new milestone for the Baha’i world community.

The design was unveiled last Sunday during a gathering of more than 1,000 people.

The event included remarks offered by representatives of the Baha’i community and local officials. Trees donated by neighbors in surrounding communities were planted on the grounds.

ENGINEERING DESIGN

Addressing the press after the ceremony, Mr Japheth Kokal, a member of the national spiritual assembly of the Baha’i in the country said: “The engineering design is still ongoing and once its through we shall know how much money will be pumped into the entire project but we are estimating that it is likely to cost Sh100 million.”

Mr Japheth Kokal, a member of the national spiritual assembly of the Baha'i in the country addressing journalists on  April 15, 2018.

Mr Japheth Kokal, a member of the national spiritual assembly of the Baha’i in the country addressing journalists on April 15, 2018.

The funds are contributed by friends of the Baha’i across the world. Some of the funds also come from the Baha’i World Centre in Heifa, Israel.

Mr Kokal rubbished claims that the religious group is a cult saying that the temple will accommodate people from all religions.

“The temple will be a focal point of worship, a nerve center of community life, a place where souls will gather at daybreak for humble invocation and communion before we flow out of its doors to engage in our daily pursuits. And so there is no way we can be a cult,” he explained.

Village elder Violet Ombeva was happy that such a structure will be built in the area.

The design of the House of Worship is simple yet elegant in form, inspired by huts that are traditional to the region.

ACCOMMODATE 250 VISITORS

The Temple’s design architect Neda Samimi said that the concept design features a two-tiered structure that will accommodate about 250 visitors.

She indicated that the exposed roof beams highlight the nine sides of the edifice and are drawn together at an apex skylight beneath which will be placed the ‘Greatest Name’.

Ms Neda Samimi, the design architect for the Baha'i temple to be constructed in Matunda Kakamega county.

Ms Neda Samimi, the design architect for the Baha’i temple to be constructed in Matunda Kakamega county.

“The design incorporates an intricate and expressive pattern that uses the diamond shape, a familiar motif in Kenyan culture. The temple’s construction will be undertaken with materials from the region—its roof will use local slate, and the walls will be made from stone sourced from quarries nearby,” said Ms Samini, the first woman to design a Baha’i House of Worship.

Mr Job Otieno Opiyo, a  resident overseeing the project, said that the process began with grassroots efforts to cultivate a devotional spirit and an educational process that builds capacity for service to humanity.

“The Temple’s purpose is to serve Matunda Soy and its environs. Its intention is to serve humanity, irrespective of race, religion, or tribe,” said Mr Opiyo.

Kenya is one of five countries that was designated by the Universal House of Justice in 2002 to build a local Baha’i House of Worship.

Baha’i temples are open to all as a space for worship and reflection.