Lotus Society and a striving humanity

Lotus Society is a non-political and non-profit organization rooted in Canada to bring together people from different professions to work together for a world with unity in diversity. Beautyfull Life Magazine had the honor and pleasure to gather with Mehrdad Rahbar, president of the Lotus Society, and Leila Farshchian, Board of Trustees, to speak about creating a more harmonious and peaceful world as well as the upcoming events of Lotus Society. 

Dr. Gabriele Sigg: It is my pleasure to welcome Mehrdad Rahbar, president of Lotus Society, as well as Leila Farshian from Farshian Art. First, I would be interested if you could tell us why you founded Lotus Society and what your aims are. I am always curious about what drives people in their hearts.

Mehrdad Rahbar: Thank you for the interview and the opportunity that was given to us to speak about Lotus Society. Actually, the idea goes back many years, not with the same name but the idea dates back 2013-14 when I initiated a project to build a sculpture for women and I worked around it for three years and finally, I managed to get the approval from the University of British Columbia back in 2017 and I succeeded to install it in 2018.

"When Women Rise", sculpture by Mehrdad Rahbar at British Columbia University

In 2020, with some of my friends who had the same mindset and we were like-minded people. We wanted to create a space or a platform globally to address global issues such as human rights or women's rights or anything to do with humanity and good causes. So we started that in 2020. We registered the Lotus Science Society in Canada. It's a non-profit organization. And our goal and mission are very simple: We wanted to create a platform for artists, thinkers, and educators to take issues that are important to humanity in a global scale. In order to achieve that, we organize festivals, lectures, webinars, seminars, and our goal is to invite people who are involved in these fields and are interested in these fields. They could be scholars, artists, lecturers, thinkers, or writers. So that's basically a very simple focus.

And in order to achieve that, one of the things that you see, it's this platform we provided. And we started to organize this in 2023, which is the global festival. And we took, we borrowed the theme from that sculpture that I have “When Women Rise”. So that's why we named the title of this year's festival, which is the 2024 Lotus International Arts Festival.

We invited jury members from all five continents. We have two members from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Iran. USA, Canada, Russia, South Africa, and obviously from this content. We received 2,500 short films from 85 countries. We have received over 600 visual arts, including painting, photography, and multimedia. And as I mentioned, they're very diverse and they're from 85 different countries.

Leila Farshchian: I was really just taken aback by the privilege of being able to see all the work. There is so much passion, there is so much intention behind every work. Some of them are really highlighting the challenges, the pain, and the struggles that they've been through. Some of them are highlighting the hope, the rising so beautifully and I think that we're starting to see so much voices so much volume in the voice. Some of them are screaming, some of them are whispers, some of them are cries, and some of them are whimpers.

Blissful Suffering, Mahmoud Farshchian

Mehrdad: What is impressive about this festival is that every time I talk about it I have goosebumps. A few artists contacted us after we announced a call to artists. One refugee, an Iranian refugee living in Turkey for, less than two years, he's a filmmaker. As soon as he heard about this announcement, he contacted us via social media and he said, I'm going to make a movie. And he actually made it and submitted it on the last day midnight of March eight. And just imagine a refugee with all the challenges he's dealing with. And he has a young child as well. He made the commitment, he was so passionate. And he doesn't stop sending messages to us: “When is the deadline, when are you going to make the announcement?” I couldn't sleep for the last few days. And we have a few messages like that.

We have one from Africa, a Nigerian artist. They keep on messaging: “When are you announcing? When are you announcing?” I'm so excited. And as well as some other artists. They're just so anxious to hear the results. And as I speak, I have goosebumps right now.

And there is another story I share with you. A drug addict who had a drug addiction problem heard about this festival. He made a film about his life of getting out of drug addiction and his mother had a big role. So the theme was about women. He used his mother as the subject of the movie. I heard this story, it is heartbreaking, one of the jury members in the film told me the story because he contacted that jury member and said: “I will make this submission, I wanna make this submission.” So when he heard about this back in December, the only valuable thing in his life he had was a vehicle. And with that vehicle, he had to deliver and work and all that, he sold his vehicle to make the movie. And this movie is submitted and we saw the movie. And as I speak, I have tears in my eyes. Yeah, I see it's beautiful.

The Rising Phoenix, 2019 Mehrdad Rahbar

Gabriele: Yes, it is beautiful, and what also represents beauty is the Lotus Symbol of your society. Could you tell me a little bit about the Lotus Symbol and why you took it as a logo for Lotus Society, because I think it summarizes your intentions very well? 

Mehrdad: Well, the flower lotus, we picked as a flower because the flower lotus exists in many cultures from China to India, the Middle East, specifically Iran, Egypt, and even Greeks have it in their mythology. So we picked this flower, and this flower has significance because this flower grows in the most undesirable environment as you know, in marshlands and water that it's not very clean murky waters. And this is the most beautiful flower that grows and flourishes in the most undesirable conditions, environmental conditions. And it turns out to be the most beautiful flower. So that idea was depicted from that. And so it just relates to what we're trying to do as well because we wanna create this beautiful space, beautiful artwork or artworks that could come from some of those maybe undesirable environmental spaces. But we're relying on the artist to be those flowers or to speak of those flowers.

Upcoming Dates 2024

April 7th   : Award winning ceremony Vancouver
April 28th: Film Screening in downtown Vancouver, Pacific Cinema Tech
May 11th  : Panel Discussion, Vancouver Club
June 20th to June 28th : Showcase of selected visual arts, Vancouver

Watch the whole interview to hear more beautiful stories!

About Lotus Society

We envision a world where the lotus, a symbol of purity, growth, and enlightenment, blooms in the hearts and minds of all. With each endeavor, we strive to sow the seeds of positive change, to nourish the soil of creativity, and to tend to the garden of understanding. Our vision is a world where the petals of knowledge unfurl, revealing the beauty of diverse perspectives and the elegance of human potential. https://lotussociety.org/


Mehrdad Rahbar is the president of Lotus Society and an influential Iranian-Canadian painter and sculptor. In 2018, his sculpture,When Women Rise, was installed at the University of British Columbia. His body of work focuses on environmental sustainability, social and political themes.
As an accomplished designer and urbanist, Mehrdad has served as a Planning advisor in British Columbia’s municipalities since 2008.
Mehrdad Rahbar holds a Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Urban Planning from McGill University. He is currently the Vice-president of Vernacular Group, a real estate design and development company in Vancouver Canada. www.mehrdadrahbar.com

Leila Farshchian is the president of Farshchian ART LLC and founding member of Farshchian ART Foundation as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of Lotus Society. The foundation’s objective is to further public knowledge and appreciation for the arts through education, research, preservation, and celebration. Leila founded Global School House Project, which provides resources for building schools in impoverished regions. She has been a member of the International Health Awareness Network, focusing on health and education for women and children on a global level. Leila received her Masters of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University, Teachers College. Her profession is in Behavior Sciences in treatment of individuals with disabilities. She is the founder of a private practice and software system for behavior scientists. As the daughter of the artist, Ostad Mahmoud Farshchian, her childhood home resembled a museum for various great artists. When her father was not painting, he would take the family to museums, galleries and classical music concerts. Viewing art books of great masters, new artists, cartoonists, and photographers in his studio have made the arts the fabric of her spirit. Her passions include art collection, art history and jewelry design. www.farshchianart.com

Dr. Gabriele Sigg is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Beautyfull Life Magazine. She studied philosophy and sociology, investigating honor as the basis of a healthy society as her Ph.D. work at Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany. Through examining the difference between eastern and western trading patterns by the example of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul she found the key for intercultural understanding that lies within “feeling knowledge” (east) and “thinking knowledge” (west).
She is an expert in Greek philosophy and “Deutsche Geisteswissenschaft” (German Poets and Thinkers). Gabriele translates the original Western spiritual and personal character development ideas for a fulfilled life into modern language. Through personal experience and her professional expertise in philosophy and sociology, she envisioned the importance of Emotional & Heart Education not to repeat the unproductive cycles of male-female / matriarchy-patriarchy / mind-emotional-polarization. Instead, her mission is to create a balanced society that embodies love, freedom, and honor (justice). www.emotional-education.org


Mahmoud Farshchian was born in Isfahan in 1930, Mahmoud Farshchian grew up in the proximity of Isfahan’s royal mosque, where the architectural masterpieces of the Safavid dynasty informed his understanding of art and beauty.
Farshchian's natural genius was nourished by his family’s deep appreciation for art in all its forms. Beyond their physical appearance, Farshchian paid keen attention to their different moods and personalities. “There was this particular white rooster that was so friendly with me,” he remembers. “I carried food for him in my pocket, and he would push his head into my pocket and eat them.”
Farshchian’s father Gholamreza was a successful Persian carpet dealer, and the home was furnished with antiques, Cretonne curtains, and many carpets woven by the masters Archang (Ahmad Hartamni) and Mirza. Father would sit, arms crossed, watching in silence for hours as his young son drew the carpets’ lines and patterns. He would just look at me from the corner of his eyes. It was then that I realized the effects of my passion for art in my life. www.farshchianart.com