Festival of Ridván is the twelve day period commemorating Bahá’u’lláh’s announcement of his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad in 1863, observed from 20 April to 1 May.
The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridván are major Bahá’í Holy days on which work should be suspended. Bahá’í administrative elections are normally held during Ridvan as well. The name derives from the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during this period and to which he gave the name Ridván meaning Paradise.
On the first day small group of followers and Bahá’u’lláh made it across the Tigris River and settled at the “Najibiyyih” garden where Bahá’u’lláh stayed for twelve days accompanied by His closest followers and friends before He departed to Constantinople (Istanbul) where He was being further exiled by the Ottoman Empire.
The closest friends and followers wept after giving farewell; after all Bahá’u’lláh had spend almost two years in Baghdad where He had won the love and respect of the citizens of Baghdad for His wisdom, guidance and exemplary character.
These twelve days are known by Bahá’ís the “Festival of Ridván” and it is celebrated all over the world with the same joy and happiness as the early believers did during those 12 days. It is during this period that Bahá’u’lláh revealed to His followers and the world that He was the promised one of God foretold in all the Holy scriptures of the past. Bahá’u’lláh states: “He Who is the Desire of all nations hath shed upon the kingdoms of the unseen and of the seen the splendor of the light of His most excellent names, and enveloped them with the radiance of the luminaries of His most gracious favors – favors which none can reckon except Him.”
This is the Day Baha’u’llah said where all the attributes of God have been cast over the entire creation; meaning, every human being is capable by the grace of God to mold his character and manifest the most sublimes qualities and attributes such as justice, love, compassion and generosity.
For Bahá’ís this is an special occasion to show hospitality and love to their neighbors, friends and acquaintances; as they try to follow the beautiful example and the will of their beloved Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God).
As we go about our daily lives we remember the words written by Bahá’u’lláh before His departure commanding all of those who have recognized Him to attract the hearts of men through the word of God. For that reason, Bahá’ís everywhere, invite their friends and acquaintances to small gatherings where they can to explore the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and together built communities that can progress spiritually and materially.
Four portals of community development are offered as we try to build a new civilization: children classes, the junior youth program, devotional gatherings and the study circles. These are community building programs that essentially empower individuals to affect change by actively participating in the social transformation of their communities.
About the individual Bahá’u’lláh states: “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” Hence man is this inestimable gem that only through polishing will reveal its beauty. As a protagonist he is aware of himself; as he molds his spiritual life, he shapes its surrounding environment, as both are affected one by the other, that is the meaning of “worship and service” in the Bahá’í Faith.
We are here in this plane of existence to carry forward an ever advancing civilization that can progress materially and spiritually. Increasing capacity at the individual and community level is a way to build an equitable and just society avoiding the pit falls of “us” and “them” or the notion of “advantage” and “disadvantage” groups or individuals.
Revealing about the greatness of this Day Bahá’u’lláh said: “Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory”.
We will be celebrating this great Festival on May 1, 2017. We invite you to join us. Please drop us a line and RSVP by April 20, 2017.