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Festival of Ridvan

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Ridvan, also known as the Most Great Festival, celebrates Baha’u’llah’s time in the garden of Ridvan on the outskirts of Baghdad in 1863 where He publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God. The Ridvan Festival is 12 days long and is also the time of year where Baha’is elect their local and national governing bodies, and every five years, the international governing body for the worldwide Baha’i community.

12 Things About Ridvan

April 20, 2014, in Articles > Holy Days & Baha'i Calendar, by
Young beautiful woman arms raised enjoying the nature in green forest

As we join Baha’is around the world in celebrating the 12 day festival of Ridvan, we thought it would be great to share 12 things you should know about these special days which signify the 12 days Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad, so let’s begin!

1. The Word

Ridvan literally translates to “paradise” in the Arabic language and can be used as such in Baha’i Holy Writings to describe a place or station of spiritual beauty and significance. In phrases such as the “Ridvan of the divine Presence” or the “Ridvan of resplendent glory”, we understand Ridvan to be synonymous with the word Paradise.

2.The Festival

Ridvan in common Baha’i speak refers most often to the Festival of Ridvan – a 12-day yearly festival held to commemorate the 12 days Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad in 1863, during which time He declared His Prophetic Mission to His followers and announced His station as the Promised One of all religions. Ridvan, together with the Declaration of the Bab, are designated by Baha’u’llah as “the two Most Great Festivals” and are attributed according significance in the Baha’i calendar and celebrated as such in the Baha’i world. The 1st, 9th and 12th days of Ridvan are considered Holy Days, on which work should be suspended and the festival of Ridvan is celebrated every year from the 13th of the month of Jalal to the 5th of the month of Jamal according to the Baha’i calendar.

3. The 1st Day

In 1863, exactly 31 days after the celebration of New Year (Naw-Ruz), Baha’u’llah set forth on the first stage of what would be a four-month journey from Baghdad to Constantinople after being exiled by the governing officials of the city. Baha’u’llah left His house and was ferried across the Tigris River before reaching the Najibiyyih Garden, where He would spend the next 12 days farewelling friends and followers before His final departure from Baghdad. Although the occasion of Baha’u’llah’s departure was one of sorrow, He fore-tellingly declared it the inauguration of a festival of supreme felicity and joy.

4. The 9th Day

Nine days after Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the Najibiyyih Garden, known thereafter as the Garden of Ridvan, He was joined by the rest of His family. By this time successive waves of visitors were streaming into the garden seeking the presence of Baha’u’llah and wishing to bid Him farewell. In a recount from Nabil in his Narrative, he describes Baha’u’llah walking at night among the tents of those who had come to the garden, observing aloud:

Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?

Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By” p. 153

5. The 12th Day

The last day of Baha’u’llah’s stay in the Garden of Ridvan before His impending departure was one of loss and sadness for those who had to remain.

Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with wonder. Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion.

Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, p. 55

At noontime, twelve days after He had first entered the Garden, Baha’u’llah mounted a horse and departed the garden.

6. The Significance

It was during the Festival of Ridvan that Baha’u’llah, for the first time, publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God, as the Promised One foretold in all the world’s religions. He brought with Him a Revelation that heralded a new era – the beginning of the Baha’i Faith.

You can read more about the significance of Ridvan here: What is Ridvan and Why does it have 12 days

7. The Gardens

While the above mentioned Garden of Ridvan refers to the Najibiyyih Garden where Baha’u’llah spent His last 12 days in Baghdad receiving friends who came to bid him farewell, there is in fact a second Garden of Ridvan that is referred to by the Baha’is. Fifteen years after Baha’u’llah had declared His mission at the original Festival of Ridvan, He eventually moved to a house outside of the prison city Akka in what is today Israel. Baha’u’llah’s son Abdu’l-Baha rented a small island garden of great beauty close enough to the house for Baha’u’llah to frequent. Baha’u’llah named this garden the Garden of Ridvan and once even received pilgrims there over a period of nine days.

You can read more about the two gardens of Ridvan here: The Two Gardens of Ridvan

8. The Elections

Baha’u’llah established a unique system of administration that has governed the Baha’i community up until today. Founded on a set of unique electoral and consultative principles, the Baha’i administrative order is organized around elected governing councils, operating at the local, national, and international levels. 1

At the local level, Baha’i community life is governed by the Local Spiritual Assembly – a freely elected body of nine people who guide and administer the affairs of the community. 2 The Local Spiritual Assembly is elected on the first day of Ridvan, which begins, according to the Baha’i calendar, at sunset on April 20 and ends at sunset on April 21.

Shoghi Effendi says:

Pending its establishment, and to insure uniformity throughout the East and throughout the West, all local Assemblies will have to be re-elected once a year, during the first day of Ridvan, and the result of polling, if possible, be declared on that day.

Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p.41

You can read more about the Ridvan Baha’i Elections here: What are the Ridvan Baha’i Elections

9. The Conventions

Across the world Baha’is hold a National Convention once a year in their respective countries for the primary purpose of electing nine members who will serve on the nation’s Baha’i national administrative body called ‘The National Spiritual Assembly’.

An International Convention is held once every five years at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel to elect the members of the supreme global governing and administrative body of the Baha’i Faith, ‘The Universal House of Justice’.

Both the annual National Convention and International Convention are preferably held during the period of Ridvan.

10. The Messages

Every year at Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice releases a Ridvan Message addressed to the Baha’is of the world. Being the legislative authority, the Baha’i community looks to the Universal House of Justice for counsel, guidance and direction in its spiritual and administrative affairs.

Baha’u’llah wrote that since for…

…each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the Ministers of the House of Justice that they may act according to the needs and requirements of the time.

http://info.bahai.org/universal-house-of-justice.html

As such, in the same way Baha’u’llah shared His Vision of the new era that began with His Declaration at Ridvan in 1863, so too does the Universal House of Justice continue each Ridvan to keep the Baha’i community in line with it in an ever-evolving world.

11. The Tablets

There are several Tablets, which Baha’u’llah revealed both during and for the Festival of Ridvan. These Holy Words are often read aloud or in private to mark the occasion of Ridvan, to reflect on its significance and draw on its enduring implication for the Baha’i community.

Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind.

Baha’u’llah, “Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah”, p.31

12. The Relevance

And finally, as Baha’is, as followers of Baha’u’llah that seek the Paradise of His Presence as much as the friends who gathered around Him in Baghdad did, we are charged and blessed with the duty of acknowledging the “King of Festivals”.

Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His name, the All-Merciful.

Baha’u’llah, “Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah”, p.35

Happy Ridvan everyone!!!


Footnotes & Citations
  1. http://info.bahai.org/universal-house-of-justice.html[]
  2. http://info.bahai.org/article-1-6-0-3.html[]
Posted by

Zayda

Zayda is a Baha'i living and serving in Australia's capital, Canberra.

Discussion 22 Comments

[…] piece by Ibrahim Mogra in the Guardian today, which is most appropriate as it is the first day of Ridvan, the most important Bahá’í Festival. I think the post deserves spreading widely not only because […]

Thanks for sharing……

jitpal kalita (April 4, 2014 at 3:20 AM)

In “Revelation of Baha’u’llah” Vol. I of Adib Taherzadeh, Baha’u’llah made 3 important statements on the first day of Ridvan:
1. to forbid the use of the sword (any kind of weapons)
2. no other Manifestation of God would appear befor the expiration of a thousand years.
3. that, the moment He uttered those words, all the names and attributes of God were fully manifested within all created things. By this He implied the advent of a new Day and the infusion of a fresh capacity into all beings.

Guisela Dorn (April 4, 2014 at 8:55 PM)

bahi religion is the most important religion to all human kind it creates humanity harmony and peace to tour world.

osmanSaid (April 4, 2015 at 8:45 AM)

Its beautiful stories that you are sharing the wonderful information about the faith am happy to that please share more to me thanks

Frankline kisuya (April 4, 2015 at 9:16 AM)

A wonderful blog, thank you kindly!

Celeste (April 4, 2015 at 12:44 PM)

[…] will observe the first day of the Festival of Ridvan on Tuesday April 21st. This holy day commemorates the anniversary of […]

We like this wonderful blog which gives necessary information about bahai faith.

Abdul zamani (April 4, 2015 at 1:40 PM)

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement!

Naysan (April 4, 2015 at 11:10 PM)

Thanks for sharing, wonderful story with lots of episodes which I never knew.

Michael J Okiria (May 5, 2015 at 5:09 PM)

Thanks Sir for the edification!

Rooplall (April 4, 2016 at 11:01 PM)

I’m preparing for the first day of Ridvan celebration the night before.. and I found this and all the related articles sooo helpful. Thank you for your service. Love, a pioneer in Korea 🙂

Sarah Kim (April 4, 2018 at 1:41 PM)

We’re so glad you found Baha’i Blog content useful! Thank you for your kind words!

Sonjel Vreeland (April 4, 2018 at 11:55 PM)

Thank you SO MUCH for this Baha’i blog. I have been learning about the Baha’i faith over the last few years and now, thanks to all of you, I know what Ridvan is all about! This was so helpful!

Sue Morand (April 4, 2018 at 2:53 AM)

Great to hear! Thank you so much for your feedback and so glad you’ve found this helpful!

Naysan Naraqi (April 4, 2018 at 6:39 AM)

Thank you Baha’i Blog for this article. Happy Ridvan!

Criselda R. Figuerres (April 4, 2019 at 4:29 AM)

Awesome work thank you.

John Misela (April 4, 2019 at 12:44 PM)

Thanks for your support and encouragement John! 🙂

Naysan Naraqi (April 4, 2019 at 8:19 PM)

I didn’t no more… Thanks for the education.
Ben In Botswana.
member Of (LSA)Metsimotlhabe

Ben Tshepiso (April 4, 2019 at 12:52 PM)

The 12 Things About Ridvan is really an added value piece of information. I’m going to use it tonight at the 12th Day of Ridvan in Darfur, Sudan. Thank you so much for your great effort and for sharing it.

Vela Gopal (May 5, 2019 at 11:31 AM)

You’re most welcome Vela! Glad this helps!

Naysan Naraqi (May 5, 2019 at 12:10 PM)

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