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To the loving memory of Golnar Sahba (Rafi'i)


Golnar Sahba (Rafi'i)


The late Golnar (Goli) Sahba (Rafi’i) was a vivid example of the well-known adage “behind every successful man, there is a woman.” Her husband, the internationally known Mr. Fariborz Sahba, was the architect of the award-winning Baha’i Lotus Temple in India, which was completed in 1986. By drawing about 3.5 million visitors each year, this temple is now one of the most visited landmarks in the world. In 1987, the Baha’i World Centre assigned to Mr. Sahba the crucial task of designing and building 18 terraces that were to be used as a majestic approach to the Shrine of the Bab, the martyred Herald of the Baha’i Faith. Baha’is consider this shrine to be one of the most holy places in the world.

According to Mr. Sahba’s own testimony in his moving tribute to Golnar (Goli), she was Mr. Sahba’s “complete partner” in everything he had achieved thus far or would do in the future:

​”That was why, when I gave my report to the crowd of about 10,000 who had gathered for the inauguration of the Baha’i Lotus Temple, I first asked Golnar to come to the stage and stand next to me. I said, ‘She is my complete partner in everything that has been done so far or will be done in the future.’ She did not like to bring attention to herself, and what I said on that day as a token of my appreciation for her role in the Lotus Temple project was done without her consent. Even on the inauguration day, she came to the stage reluctantly.”

​He also expressed similar sentiments during the inauguration ceremony of the Baha’i Terraces in Haifa, Israel, and called Golnar his guardian angel on earth, his partner, his inspiration, and an expert artist and designer for all his projects. Another great accomplishment of Fariborz and Golnar’s was the publication of the Varqa (dove) Magazine for children and youth in Iran. Varqa started in the Persian language in 1970. When the family moved to India to build the Baha’i Lotus Temple, the magazine was also published in several Indian languages. After the Sahbas completed the Terraces in 2001 and moved to Canada, Varqa continued in English through 2006. Copies of all the Persian issues of Varqa are now online. Like any parent, Golnar’s love for children began at home with their three children, Naysan, Shamim, and Shirin; that love continued to her last breath. Shortly before Golnar’s last Christmas in this world, the Sahbas’ three children and their families had planned a holiday trip to one of the islands near Indonesia. However, Golnar’s health deteriorated in the hospital during her cancer treatments. As a result, the children had to cancel their trip, which was to take place in the exact week when the horrible tsunami of 2006 effectively wiped out that island. Thus, with her death, Golnar effectively saved the lives of her own children and their families. Her legacy, however, will continue to live on for generations to come.