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New Southgate Cemetery
Brunswick Park Road  
New Southgate N11 1JJ
+44 (0) 208 361 1713

Closest station: Arnos Grove

Opening times:
Daily from 7am-8pm
Gates close at 6pm between November and March

Baha'i memorial in north London

Tucked deep inside New Southgate in North London is the resting place of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i faith.

A golden eagle resting upon a pure white pillar reaches into the sky. It is surrounded beds of bright flowers and a white stone fence. On sunny days, the light illuminates the white stone, in an almost divine way. All people are welcome to sit and reflect, pray, or just simply marvel at its beauty.

The UK Baha'i Community numbers at around 4,600, according to the 2001 UK Census. London has two sites of importance to Baha'is; the UK National Baha'i Centre and Shoghi Effendi's memorial. Even for those who have a strong interest in different religions will find the place spiritually beneficial.

Life of Shoghi Effendi

Shoghi Effendi was the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, a religion dedicated to bringing humanity together through the eradication of prejudice. Teachings, brought to the Baha'is through the founder of the Faith, Baha'u'llah, include the equality of men and women, respect for all beliefs and religions, and the harmony of science and religion. Baha'is often say, "All of humanity is one family."

According to Baha'i writings, the eagle was chosen as a symbol of Shoghi Effendi's many victories and accomplishments in life. Under his guidance, the teachings of Baha'u'llah were able to spread far and wide enough for the religion to become a global faith. During his lifetime alone, it grew from having 100,000 to 400,000 members. This was through good words and deeds alone, as the Baha'i Faith is against proselytism.

Baha'is also believe that religion evolves along with humanity, and that the Baha'i Faith is the religion of this era. In keeping with this, the Baha'i administrative body, the Universal House of Justice, is democratically elected. Shoghi Effendi, prompted by those before him, continued to set up National Spirital Assemblies in countries with modest Baha'i populations.

Multi-cultural cemetery

New Southgate cemetery is an immensely beautiful cemetery, and one that reflects the very multicultural ideals of Shoghi Effendi himself. Walking up and down the rows, I noticed gravestones engraved with Greek lettering, Arabic script and even Chinese characters.

Surrounding the memorial are the graves of many other Baha'is, who wanted to rest near their Guardian.

At the centre of the cemetery, there is a quaint little chapel with gothic turrets shooting into the sky. From here, a number of paths radiate outwards, leading to separate sections of the cemetery. To find Shoghi Effendi's resting place, just walk to the path with towering columns either side of its entrance. The whole area has a surprising amount of greenery for the bustling city of London, allowing you to get a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Contrary to the usual gloomy atmosphere of a graveyard, this one felt rather calming. There is something enlightening about sitting and remembering the past, in such a magnificent and tranquil place.

Jody-Lan Castle