Ridván – the Most great Festival. What is it? Baha’i Faith

Some of you may have heard from friends, online or somewhere else about the Festival of Ridván. Now…what does it really mean and what happened that this is regarded as the Most Great Festival amongst Baha’is all over the world?

Ok, this is again, my limited understanding:

Ridván is a festival comprising of 12 days, from the 21st of April until the 2nd of May every year. These were 12 VERY important days in the Baha’i Faith where Bahá’u’lláh declared the glorious news to those present that He was the One, He was whom The Bab and all the Messengers from the past had been announcing for so many centuries: that He was the Manifestation of God for this day and age.
This all happened on the 21st of April 1863.
From the Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1983), III, pp. 10-11

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.

Great indeed is this Day! The allusions made to it in all the sacred Scriptures as the Day of God attest its greatness. The soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted for this wondrous Day. All the divers kindreds of the earth have, likewise, yearned to attain it. No sooner, however, had the Day Star of His Revelation manifested itself in the heaven of God’s Will, than all, except those whom the Almighty was pleased to guide, were found dumbfounded and heedless.

Ridván (a name given by Bahá’u’lláh which in Arabic means “paradise”) was a garden where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during these 12 days on the outskirts of Baghdad, on the banks of the river Tigris. He camped there for 12 days and 3 of these days are regarded as Baha’i holy days: the 1st – when He arrived there, the 9th – when His family arrived, and the 12th, when they all left to exile.

Historical view of Baghdad and the Tigris river

Historical view of Baghdad and the Tigris river. Effie Baker, c.1930. From: http://www.bahai.org

The Greatness of this Festival and the magnitude of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation is far beyond any human words; even least mine. The most adequate thing I can do is to directly quote from the Baha’i writings. The following excerpt is from the book: The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 106-109, which I got from the http://www.bahai.org website.

In His writings, the Báb alluded to the imminent coming of the Promised One foretold in all the world’s religions — a role claimed by Bahá’u’lláh. “This is the King of Days,” Bahá’u’lláh thus extols the age that has witnessed the advent of His Revelation, “the Day that hath seen the coming of the Best-beloved, Him Who through all eternity hath been acclaimed the Desire of the World.” “I am the One,” He in another connection affirms, “Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned.” Of Himself, He wrote: “Naught is seen in My temple but the Temple of God, and in My beauty but His Beauty, and in My being but His Being, and in My self but His Self, and in My movement but His Movement, and in My acquiescence but His Acquiescence, and in My pen but His Pen, the Mighty, the All-Praised. There hath not been in My soul but the Truth, and in Myself naught could be seen but God.”

The festival of Ridván is also called the King of Festivals and The Festival of God. Baha’is all over the world get together to celebrate this great occasion, opening this celebration to the wider community. But that is not all that happens during this day. Baha’is also take the opportunity to elect their 9-member administrative body in their communities. These are called: Local Spiritual Assemblies. During the festival, the National Spiritual Assembly for each country is also elected.

Illuminated calligraphy of verses of Bahá’u’lláh revealed for the Festival of Ridván, displayed in His room at the Mansion of Mazra‘ih.

Illuminated calligraphy of verses of Bahá’u’lláh revealed for the Festival of Ridván. From the Baha'i World Centre archives

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