Festival of Ridvan 2023
The Festival of Ridvan is an annual Bahá’í festival celebrated over 12 days and starts on 20 April and ends on 2 May (April 21-May 2, 1863). Ridvan is the most significant festival of the Baha’i faith. The First Day of Ridvan is the most important of the Baha’í Holy Days. It is the day on which Baha’u’lláh declared his mission as a messenger of God in the Garden of Ridvan. The 1st, 9th, and 12th days of the festival are also considered significant days, and work is suspended on these days.
Ridvan commemorates the 12 days that Baha’u’llah spent in a garden in Baghdad by the Tigris River in 1863 after He was exiled from Iran. There, Baha’u’llah publicly proclaimed his mission as God’s messenger for this age. He declared His station as a manifestation of God and proclaimed the spiritual principles of His teachings surrounding oneness in humanity. Holy days are celebrated with devotional gatherings, musical programs, and dancing. We wish everyone a happy festival of Ridvan.
The Bahá’ís believe in the essential value of all religions and unity and the equality of all. They believe that in every age, God sends a divine educator, a manifestation of God, whose purpose is to restate and renew the eternal truths of religion and to address the specific needs of the age in which he appears. They believe that Baha’u’llah is the manifestation of God for this time in mankind’s evolution. Baha’u’llah established a system of administration that governs the Bahá’í community. Founded on a set of unique electoral and consultative principles, the Bahá’í administrative order is organized around elected governing councils, operating at the local, national, and international levels.
The Ridvan Garden
The Baha’is believe in the essential value of all religions and unity and the equality of all. Baha’u’llah had been exiled from His native Iran and had lived in the Ottoman city of Baghdad since 1853. Baghdad was close to the Iranian border, near several Shiite shrines, and home to many Iranian exiles, and the Iranian authorities feared his growing prestige. The Ottoman Empire, at the insistence of the Persian government, decided that He would be asked to leave Baghdad and be summoned to Constantinople. Bahá’u’lláh, had by this time become an Ottoman subject and the summons was issued in the form of a polite invitation.
Residents of Baghdad were heartbroken at the news of His impending departure and a large number came to say their goodbyes. Bahá’u’lláh decided to move to the Najibiyyih Garden across the river Tigris, (which He called the Ridvan Garden or the Garden of Paradise) where He could receive a larger number of visitors.
This occurred on the afternoon of 22 April 1863. Therefore the next eleven days, he received farewell visits from a multitude of friends, including the governor. The river rose soon after his arrival, so it was not until the ninth day that his family was able to join him. The twelfth day was appointed for departure. They started their trip on the afternoon of the twelfth day May 2, 1863, for the three-month journey to Istanbul.
This garden where He received his visitors was located in a large agricultural area immediately north of the walls of the city of Baghdad. It was on the eastern bank of the Tigris and was directly opposite the district on the river’s western bank where Bahá’u’lláh lived during his stay in the city.
It was described as a wooded garden having four “flower-bordered avenues” lined with roses. The roses were collected by gardeners during Baha’u’llah’s stay and piled in the center of his tent to be offered to visitors. Nightingales were said to sing loudly in the garden, which, together with the fragrance of the roses, “created an atmosphere of beauty and enchantment”.
Festival of Ridvan celebrations
The Festival of Ridvan is celebrated by Bahá’ís throughout the world with great joy and fellowship. During these 12 days, there are social gatherings, devotional services, and elections of local and national Baha’i administrative bodies. The first, ninth, and 12th days of Ridvan are the Bahá’í Holy days. These Holy Day celebrations are open to the public.
While there are few specific rules concerning the observance of Ridvan. It is usually observed with community gatherings for prayer and celebration on the three holy days, it is also in some cities celebrated with outdoor activities, like visiting flower gardens. Every year, Bahá’ís worldwide gather in their local communities on the first day of Ridvan to elect the nine members of their local spiritual assembly. The Bahá’í Faith does not have designated clergy instead, members vote for leaders from their congregation to serve for one year.
Every adult Baha’i at the age of 21 is eligible to be voted for. All Bahá’ís have the responsibility to participate and vote for these nine members of the community who will volunteer their time to run the administrative affairs and assist in the spiritual well-being of their respective local communities for the year ahead.
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