What is Ridvan and Why Does it Have 12 Days?

Ridvan is a 12 day festival commemorating the time Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan meeting with visitors before His exile to Constantinople. The dates when Ridvan is celebrated shift and move in the Gregorian calendar from year to year but they always span the 13th day of Jalal to the 5th of Jamal in the Baha’i calendar. Ridvan (which means “paradise” in Arabic) commemorates Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of all religions.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the ‘Everlasting Father,’ the ‘Lord of Hosts’ come down ‘with ten thousands of saints’; to Christendom Christ returned ‘in the glory of the Father,’ to Shi’ih Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the ‘Spirit of God’; to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

Although Baha’u’llah’s mission as the Promised One had been revealed to Him in 1853 during His imprisonment in Tehran, it was ten years before He would declare His mission publicly in the Garden of Ridvan.

In 1844, the Bab had foretold the coming of a great Messenger from God – the One promised in all religions. The Bab’s entire ministry, which ended with His execution by the Persian authorities in 1850, had been to prepare the people for the arrival of this Messenger. Baha’ullah, one of the Bab’s followers, was imprisoned in the Siyah-Chal in 1853. It was here that He experienced a revelation from God in which His mission was made known to Him.

After Baha’u’llah was released from the Siyah-Chal, He was exiled from Persia and settled in Baghdad. Baha’ullah did not tell anyone of the revelation He had received in the Siyah-Chal. The Bab’s followers began to turn to Baha’u’llah as a leader of the Babi community, relying on His loving guidance and care following the Bab’s execution.

It was for this reason that news of Baha’u’llah’s exile greatly shook and saddened the Babi community. For twelve days, before departing for Constantinople, Baha’u’llah remained in the Garden of Ridvan, receiving a vast number of visitors – both Babis  and the people of Baghdad. What the Babis had expected to be a painful farewell instead turned out to be an occasion of joy and celebration as Baha’ullah, on His first day in the Garden, declared His mission as the Promised One.

Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridvan, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas

Baha’u’llah’s declaration marked the beginning of the Baha’i Faith and thus heralded a new era with the promise of the unity of all mankind. For me, Ridvan is an occasion for joyous celebration and deep gratitude.

Say: The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path. Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas

As a Baha’i, I have had the immense privilege and joy of witnessing the amazing transformative power of Baha’u’llah’s teachings – in my own life and spiritual wellbeing, but also in the transformation of the world around me. As a commemoration of the day on which the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah began, Ridvan truly is – as Baha’u’llah described it – “the Day of supreme felicity”.

Happy Ridvan, everyone!

About the Author

In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Learning.

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Discussion 16 Comments

  1. Oh thank you, thank you. My dear friend/sister sent me your post. This is my first visit here but not my last. Just looking at the picture transported me back to the Garden and my heart rejoiced. What a wonderful day it is and you have just made it more special. I will be sharing this tonight as we form our newly elected Assembly tonight.
    Love to you, Sharon

  2. Thank you Preethi for a wonderful article on Ridvan! Our Assembly is organizing a celebration of the 9th Day of Ridvan and some of your ideas will be put to work.

    I am glad you came out of your law library 🙂

    Baha’i Love

  3. As I was wondering about the festival of Ridvan and its 12 days and being in the middle of the river, couldn’t help but thinking about the verses in the Book of Revelation 22:

    And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
    In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
    And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
    And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads

  4. How very beautiful the different verses not onlyh from the aujthor but also from readers of the article. The eloquence and the meanings behind these words are truly manifold and deserve to be read by the mulltitudes.

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