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Ambassadors for Peace

Ambassador for Peace Explains Baptism at Parliament of the World's Religions

Melbourne, Australia - "Baptism, Living Water, and the Link to John the Baptist" was the theme of a presentation at the Parliament of the World's Religions by Australian Ambassador for Peace Ganzibra Dr. Brikha Nasoraia.

Water is the essential, life-giving ingredient in the baptism of the Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. The Mandaeans, whose Gnostic religion predates Christianity, regard baptism as a crucial element in their quest for enlightenment, inner peace, and sacred wisdom. Baptism is conducted in the living waters of a healthy river or spring, which is called Yardana (Jordan). As such, baptism is fundamental to Mandaean religious practice and the foundation of its universal redemptive system. Due to the recent wars in Iraq and Iran, a majority of the Mandaeans have migrated to countries of the Diaspora, including Australia, where there are currently more than 6,000 Mandaeans, including nine practicing priests. Based in western Sydney, this major resettlement is dependent on access to the Nepean River in which all the main Australian baptisms are conducted.

The presentation at the interreligious assembly held in Melbourne December 3-9, 2009, focused on the current baptismal practices of the Mandaeans in Australia and outlined the intricate processes associated with this central rite. It also reviewed the origins of Mandaeism in biblical times, looking in particular at the tradition which links these practices to John the Baptist, from whom the Mandaeans believe they are descended.

Iraqi-born Ganzibra Dr. Brikha Nasoraia is a high priest of the Mandaean religion now living in Sydney. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Sydney for research into a previously unpublished Mandaean illustrated manuscript and is currently finishing a second doctoral thesis on the esoteric and mystical concepts of the Mandaean secret scrolls. He is President of the Mandaean Spiritual Council of Australia and of the International Mandaean Nasoraean Supreme Council.

Mandaeanism is a monotheistic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Historically, its adherents lived in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq and western Iran. They revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Aram (son of Shem) and especially John the Baptist. Mandaeans consider baptism a sacrament to aid and purify the soul, to ensure its rebirth into a spiritual body and ascent from the world of matter.

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