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.
7 Ways to Celebrate the Festival of Ridvan at Home
Now that my eldest is four years old, she understands a lot more about the significance of Baha’i holy days. This has made me increasingly reflect on how we commemorate these special days as a family aside from attending our community’s events. In the first volume of The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh describes the Ridvan Garden in Baghdad with these words:
There, Baha’u’llah appeared in the utmost joy, walking majestically in its avenues lined with flowers and trees. The fragrance of roses and the singing of nightingales created an atmosphere of beauty and enchantment. 1
This year we will be celebrating the King of Festivals by adding some beauty and enchantment to our daily lives in the following 7 ways:
My friend Maëlle suggested a great way to create an atmosphere of enchantment at home: bring birdsong inside. You can find some beautiful nightingale birdsongs online. For example, this YouTube video features 3 hours of continuous song. It may not be particularly accurate, but it helps to paint a picture of how serene and beautiful I imagine the Ridvan Garden must have been like. Some of you may live in warm climates where you can relish in birdsong naturally coming in your windows but we live in a cold climate and although it’s spring, we’ll have to bundle up and go outside to listen to the spring birdsong, and that’s something I hope to do too.
2. Decorate with Flowers
Adib Taherzadeh also quotes Nabil’s famous account of the gardeners piling Baha’u’llah’s tent with roses so high the believers couldn’t see each other over them. Decorating your home with roses can pay homage to this story. You can also make your own. Hoda has already showed us how to make a paper rose for Ridvan, and Rayan has also shared how to make simple origami flowers. The internet has an abundance of flower related crafts but here are three of my favourites:
These flowers can decorate your home or could be given as gifts for others, just as Baha’u’llah would lovingly give that mountain of roses away.
3. The Perfume of Roses
That same account of Nabil’s include these words:
[…] I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: “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?” 2
Janna has a wonderful family tradition relating to this intoxicating rose scent: she keeps a spray bottle with rose water on hand for her children to perfume the air.
4. Pitch a Tent
I can remember the times my family hosted Ridvan celebrations because they would pitch our camping tent inside our living room. It was extremely memorable. Tents can easily be made with sheets or blankets, chairs or string in bedrooms, living rooms, courtyards or backyards but no matter how or where you make it or how you make it, it has an impact.
5. Special Devotions and Stories
The tent can be a wonderful place to share devotions and tells stories about Baha’u’llah and to reflect on the history of the Ridvan Festival. Adib Taherzadeh’s book The Revelation of Baha’u’llah is an excellent resource and it includes passages from The Dawnbreakers and God Passes By.
6. Something a Little Extraordinary
Whether it’s cooking a meal a little more special than your usual fare or making sure your clothes are their cleanest and brightest, I think that adding a little dash of special to the routine of everyday can be really memorable. We have started the habit of lighting two candles at supper during holy days. I delight in this simple act because it helps remind me to observe the holy day all day and not just in the hours spent at a community celebration.
7. Celebrate Spring
One of my favourite Writings to reflect on during Ridvan is:
The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. 3
Is it spring where you live? Are there aspects of nature’s awakening that you can delight in? Crocuses or daffodils? If you live in the southern hemisphere, perhaps you can bring a little spring to your autumn days by beginning to cultivate an indoor garden.
These are a few things I am hoping to implement at home for the Ridvan Festival. What do you do at home to celebrate?
Footnotes & Citations
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, Vol I, p. 261[↩]
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, Vol. I, p. 276[↩]
Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 27[↩]
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.