Tag Archives: Bahai celebration

Bicentennial of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, 22nd of October 2017

In recent years, the Bahá’í world received instructions from their administrative head (The Universal House of Justice) to start using the “Badi calendar” for the celebrations of their Holy days. This changes things…some dates now fluctuate year to year; kind of like Easter. For instance, most notably the Birth of The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are now TWIN HOLY DAYS! That means they are celebrated on two consecutive days. These days will range over the next 10 years between mid October to mid November. Other holy days like the New Year, the Intercalary Days, the Festival of Ridván, and the 19 Day Feasts also change but they only fluctuate a little from being a day forward or a day earlier depending on when the New Year was celebrated on that year.

Now, this post is about the Bicentennial of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God for Today. It’s a big deal. He was born in Tehrán on November 12th 1817 – 200 years later, we are going to have celebrations ALL OVER THE WORLD!

I am just very excited about these events and I am sure lots of creative mids will be at work to make something uplifting and dignified. Make sure you check out where the celebration nearest to you will be next year 🙂

For those not yet very familiar with Bahá’u’lláh’s life, you can read about His life here and from His Pen here. He is the Manifestation of God for today and the attributes of His Blessed Person can be clearly seen and distinguished through the accounts and history of His life.

Photo credit: Adib Roy

Photo credit: Adib Roy

 

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The celebration of Ridván – and a recipe!

For the Baha’is all over the world, the Ridván Festival is the biggest one all year. Why? Because the Messenger of God for today – Bahá’u’lláh declared during those days that He was the Promised one of all ages. So there, enough reason to celebrate!

It is called the Ridván festival because these events took place at a garden called “Ridván”. This festival lasts from the 21st of April until the 2nd of May. Roses were Bahá’u’lláh’s favourite flower and this garden had an abundance of them.

“Every day,… ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá’u’lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city.”

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 153)

So, remembering those days and the smell and taste of the beautiful fragrance of those roses, we are making this rose water and cardamon cheesecake. This is part of a collaboration for the “walking through the garden of Ridván” series.

INGREDIENTS:

– For the crust:

1 pack of Marie cookies

100 gr melted butter

Milk

1/2 tsp cardamon

1. Powderize the cookies and mix with the melted butter.

2. Add the cardamon to the milk and then pour slowly and knead until you reach the desired consistency (if too dry add more milk but be careful not to add too much since you will have to find where to get more cookies from)

3. Once the crust is ready, spread on a pie tray and bake at 180ºC for 5-10 minutes until less wet. Remove from oven.

– For the filling:

1 can of condensed milk

1 pack of cream cheese (250 grams)

2 eggs

2 tbsp of rose water

A splash of lemon juice

1. Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until well combined.

2. Pour onto the baked crust. Burst all bubbles (if possible).

3. Bake for about 30 minutes at 180ºC. The time will vary so you have to check it and make sure it is not under cooked. To do this you have to shake the pan and if the center wiggles, it needs to bake longer.

Let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate.

Please note that cheesecake tastes better when it has set so if making for a party or function, you can bake it the night before or early in the morning to allow enough hours for it to set.


The Declaration of The Báb. A Bahá’í Holy Day.

The Báb was the Herald of the new Revelation. He prepared the peoples for the coming of Him “Whom God will make Manifest”. In other words, He did not only have the enormous task of being a Messenger of God but He also prepared His followers (known then as Babis) to be able to recognize the Manifestation of God that would soon make Himself manifest to them.

So, for the Baha’is, the Declaration of The Báb marks the beginning of the Baha’i era. 23rd of May 1844 is when it happened and this is the story of the blessed night related by Mulla Husayn and documented on The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation, p. 676:

“‘We soon found ourselves standing at the gate of a house of modest appearance. He knocked at the door, which was soon opened by an Ethiopian servant. “Enter therein in peace, secure,”were His words as He crossed the threshold and motioned me to follow Him. His invitation, uttered with power and majesty, penetrated my soul. I thought it a good augury to be addressed in such words, standing as I did on the threshold of the first house I was entering in Shíráz, a city the very atmosphere of which had produced already an indescribable impression upon me. Might not my visit to this house, I thought to myself, enable me to draw nearer to the Object of my quest? Might it not hasten the termination of a period of intense longing, of strenuous search, of increasing anxiety, which such a quest involves? As I entered the house and followed my Host to His chamber, a feeling of unutterable joy invaded my being. Immediately 55 we were seated, He ordered a ewer of water to be brought, and bade me wash away from my hands and feet the stains of travel. I pleaded permission to retire from His presence and perform my ablutions in an adjoining room. He refused to grant my request, and proceeded to pour the water over my hands. He then gave me to drink of a refreshing beverage, after which He asked for the samovar and Himself prepared the tea which He offered me.

Overwhelmed with His acts of extreme kindness, I arose to depart. “The time for evening prayer is approaching,” I ventured to observe. “I have promised my friends to join them at that hour in the Masjid-i-Ílkhání.” With extreme courtesy and calm He replied: “You must surely have made the hour of your return conditional upon the will and pleasure of God. It seems that His will has decreed otherwise. You need have no fear of having broken your pledge.” His dignity and self-assurance silenced me I renewed my ablutions and prepared for prayer. He, too, stood beside me and prayed. Whilst praying, I unburdened my soul, which was much oppressed, both by the mystery of this interview and the strain and stress of my search. I breathed this prayer: “I have striven with all my soul, O my God, and until now have failed to find Thy promised Messenger. I testify that Thy word faileth not, and that Thy promise is sure.”

And he goes on, explaining:

That night, that memorable night, was the eve preceding the fifth day of Jamádiyu’l-Avval, in the year 1260 A.H. It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful Host began to converse with me. “Whom, after Siyyid Kázim,” He asked me, “do you regard as his successor and your leader?” “At the hour of his death,” I replied, “our departed teacher insistently exhorted us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide, in quest of the promised Beloved. I have, accordingly, journeyed to Persia, have arisen to accomplish his will, and am still engaged in my quest.” “Has your teacher,” He further enquired, “given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the promised One?” “Yes,” I replied, “He is of a pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fátimih. As to His age, He is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency.” He paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: “Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!” He then considered each of the above-mentioned signs separately, and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were applicable to His person. I was greatly surprised, and politely observed: “He whose advent we await is a Man of unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal, a Cause of tremendous power. Many and diverse are the requirements which He who claims to be its visible embodiment must needs fulfil. How often has Siyyid Kázim referred to the vastness of the knowledge of the promised One! How often did he say: ‘My own knowledge is but a drop compared with that with which He has been endowed. All my attainments are but a speck of dust in the face of the immensity of His knowledge. Nay, immeasurable is the difference!’” No sooner had those words dropped from my lips than I found myself seized with fear and remorse, such as I could neither conceal nor explain. I bitterly reproved myself, and resolved at that very moment to alter my attitude and to soften my tone. I vowed to God that should my Host again refer to the subject, I would, with the utmost humility, answer and say: “If you be willing to substantiate your claim, you will most assuredly deliver me from the anxiety and suspense which so heavily oppress my soul. I shall truly be indebted to you for such deliverance.” When I first started upon my quest, I determined to regard the two following standards as those whereby I could ascertain the truth of whosoever might claim to be the promised Qá’im. The first was a treatise, which I had myself composed, bearing upon the abstruse and hidden teachings propounded by Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Kázim. Whoever seemed to me capable of unravelling the mysterious allusions made in that treatise, to him I would next submit my second request, and would ask him to reveal, without the least hesitation or reflection, a commentary on the Súrih of Joseph, in a style and language entirely different from the prevailing standards of the time. I had previously requested Siyyid Kázim, in private, to write a commentary on that same Súrih, which he refused, saying: “This is, verily, beyond me. He, that great One, who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it for you. That commentary will constitute one of the weightiest testimonies of His truth, and one of the clearest evidences of the loftiness of His position.”

Incredible! What a blessed night indeed! And what was to follow…

I was revolving these things in my mind, when my distinguished Host again remarked: “Observe attentively. Might not the Person intended by Siyyid Kázim be none other than I?” I thereupon felt impelled to present to Him a copy of the treatise which I had with me. “Will you,” I asked Him, “read this book of mine and look at its pages with indulgent eyes? I pray you to overlook my weaknesses and failings.” He graciously complied with my wish. He opened the book, glanced at certain passages, closed it, and began to address me. Within a few minutes He had, with characteristic vigour and charm, unravelled all its mysteries and resolved all its problems. Having to my entire satisfaction accomplished, within so short a time, the task I had expected Him to perform, He further expounded tome certain truths which could be found neither in the reported sayings of the imáms of the Faith nor in the writings of Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Kázim. These truths, which I had never heard before, seemed to be endowed with refreshing vividness and power. “Had you not been My guest,” He afterwards observed, “your position would indeed have been a grievous one. The all-encompassing grace of God has saved you. It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards. Were I to fail to resolve your perplexities, could the Reality that shines within Me be regarded as powerless, or My knowledge be accused as faulty? Nay, by the righteousness of God! it behoves, in this day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West to hasten to this threshold, and here seek to obtain the reviving grace of the Merciful. Whoso hesitates will indeed be in grievous loss. Do not the peoples of the earth testify that the fundamental purpose of their creation is the knowledge and adoration of God? It behoves them to arise, as earnestly and spontaneously as you have arisen, and to seek with determination and constancy their promised Beloved.” He then proceeded to say: “Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Súrih of Joseph.” He took up His pen and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Súrih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Súrih of Joseph. The overpowering effect of the manner in which He wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did He pause till the Súrih of Mulk was finished. I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation. At last I reluctantly arose from my seat and begged leave to depart. He smilingly bade me be seated, and said: “If you leave in such a state, whoever sees you will assuredly say: ‘This poor youth has lost his mind.’” At that moment the clock registered two hours and eleven minutes after sunset. That night, the eve of the fifth day of Jamádiyu’l-Avval, in the year 1260 A.H., corresponded with the eve preceding the sixty-fifth day after Naw-rúz, which was also the eve of the sixth day of Khurdád, of the year Nahang. “This night,” He declared, “this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals. Render thanks to God for having graciously assisted you to attain your heart’s desire, and for having quaffed from the sealed wine of His utterance. ‘Well is it with them that attain thereunto.’

At the third hour after sunset, my Host ordered the dinner to be served. That same Ethiopian servant appeared again and spread before us the choicest food. That holy repast refreshed alike my body and soul. In the presence of my Host, at that hour, I felt as though I were feeding upon the fruits of Paradise. I could not but marvel at the manners and the devoted attentions of that Ethiopian servant whose very life seemed to have been transformed by the regenerating influence of his Master. I then, for the first time, recognised the significance of this well-known traditional utterance ascribed to Muḥammad: “I have prepared for the godly and righteous among My servants what eye hath seen not, ear heard not, nor human heart conceived.” Had my youthful Host no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient—that He received me with that quality of hospitality and loving-kindness which I was convinced no other human being could possibly reveal.

He then shares his thoughts and feelings:

I sat spellbound by His utterance, oblivious of time and of those who awaited me. Suddenly the call of the muadhdhín, summoning the faithful to their morning prayer, awakened me from the state of ecstasy into which I seemed to have fallen. All the delights, all the ineffable glories, which the Almighty has recounted in His Book as the priceless possessions of the people of Paradise—these I seemed to be experiencing that night. Methinks I was in a place of which it could be truly said: “Therein no toil shall reach us, and therein no weariness shall touch us”; “No vain discourse shall they hear therein, nor any falsehood, but only the cry, ‘Peace! Peace!’”; “Their cry therein shall be, ‘Glory be to Thee, O God!’ and their salutation therein, ‘Peace!’ And the close of their cry, ‘Praise be to God, Lord of all creatures!’

He then addressed me in these words: “O thou who art the first to believe in Me! Verily I say, I am the Báb, the Gate of God, and thou art the Bábu’l-Báb, the gate of that Gate. Eighteen souls must, in the beginning, spontaneously and of their own accord, accept Me and recognise the truth of My Revelation. Unwarned and uninvited, each of these must seek independently to find Me. And when their number is complete, one of them must needs be chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. There I shall deliver the Message of God to the Sharíf of Mecca. I then shall return to Kúfih, where again, in the Masjid of that holy city, I shall manifest His Cause. It is incumbent upon you not to divulge, either to your companions or to any other soul, that which you have seen and heard. Be engaged in the Masjid-i-Ílkhání in prayer and in teaching. I, too, will there join you in congregational prayer. Beware lest your attitude towards Me betray the secret of your faith. You should continue in this occupation and maintain this attitude until our departure for Ḥijáz. Ere we depart, we shall appoint unto each of the eighteen souls his special mission, and shall send them forth to accomplish their task. We shall instruct them to teach the Word of God and to quicken the souls of men.” Having spoken these words to me, He dismissed me from His presence. Accompanying me to the door of the house, He committed me to the care of God.

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Ridván is here! What is it and why is it celebrated by Bahá’ís all over the world?

 

The “Most Great Festival” (Ridván) is the biggest celebration for Baha’is. This festival marks the Declaration of the Founder of the Baha’i FaithBahá’u’lláh.

It is written in the Most Holy Book (p.254) that: …the Festival of Riḍván, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Riḍván in Baghdád during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as “the King of Festivals”.

Bahá’u’lláh spent most of His Blessed life in prison and exile. When He got exiled once again, He stayed for 12 days in a garden outside Baghdad. This garden is known as the Ridvan garden. It was there where He announced to those present that He was the One, the Messenger of God they had all been waiting for, and the One that The Báb had been preparing them for. Here is a more accurate explanation by Shoghi Effendi in the book God Passes by (p.412):

The arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the Najíbíyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Riḍván, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymáníyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.

All the Messengers of the past had been announcing His coming and in diverse Holy Scriptures we can find mention of Bahá’u’lláh’s Dispensation. For instance, Jesus Christ said He would return in the Name f the Glory of the Father – see how Bahá’u’lláh means “The Glory of God”. Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By (p.412) wrote:

He Who in such dramatic circumstances was made to sustain the overpowering weight of so glorious a Mission was none other than the One Whom posterity will acclaim, and Whom innumerable followers already recognize, as the Judge, the Lawgiver and Redeemer of all mankind, as the Organizer of the entire planet, as the Unifier of the children of men, as the Inaugurator of the long-awaited millennium, as the Originator of a new “Universal Cycle,” as the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, as the Fountain of the Most Great Justice, as the Proclaimer of the coming of age of the entire human race, as the Creator of a new World Order, and as the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father,” the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father,” to Shí’ah Islám the return of the Imám Ḥusayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.

Baha’is all over the world not only celebrate the 20th or 21st of April as the beginning of this 12 day festival but the 9th day and the 12th day also are observed as Holy Days which means we take permission from work/school and celebrate this momentous occasion. Furthermore, it is then when the Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are elected every year and when the Universal House of Justice is also elected.

So, if you are a Baha’i, you are already celebrating. If not, join us in celebration!! For this is a day of joy and gratefulness to God for all the bounties He constantly showers upon us.


Naw-Ruz: the Bahá’í New Year!

Fast approaching is a significant day for the Baha’is around the world: the celebration of their new year. Each Baha’i year has 19 months and each month has 19 days. As we wrote before, the days of Ayyám-i-Há are followed by the month of Alá (loftiness) which is the last month of the Baha’i calendar and consist of the 19 days in which Baha’is observe the fast. These days are absolutely wonderful and prepare us for our new year.

This means…today, Baha’is all over the world are fasting (we might have to write about the fast on a different occasion). On the last day of the fast we celebrate the Naw-Ruz which is the first day of the year and thus of the month of Bahá (Splendour).

This new year on March 21st is not only celebrated by Baha’is but by many other groups. It is also the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.


Ridvan, the KING OF FESTIVALS. Declaration of Baha’u’llah.

A few days ago I wrote about this most wonderful festival, a gift from God…but realized that perhaps I didn’t emphasize the magnitude of the event that took place during this 12 day period: the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh.
This post is dedicated exclusively to describe personal influences of the Baha’i Faith in my life as well as select Writings that glorify this Blessed Day.

Being a Baha’i is the most important influence of my life. I had the blessing to be born into a Baha’i home (both my parents were Baha’is) thus, got to know the Faith from a young age. Of course, as any human being, I had questions regarding God and religion. What fascinated me about the Baha’i Faith was that there really were logical answers to all my questions. I was given such clarity in matters of the spirit that after studying various other religions of the world, I decided to choose the Baha’i Faith as my personal path in life. From that day on, the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh definitely influence my everyday life and I will forever be grateful to God for this wonderful blessing.

Manions of Bahji where Bahá'u'lláh passed away. Photo by Kamran Granfar 2004, taken from the bahai.org website

The declaration of Bahá’u’lláh meant the beginning of the Cycle of Fulfillment. Ok, a bit complicated to explain on this post but will be coming up soon, promise! Bahá’u’lláh brought the Healing Message of God for this specific day and age. Each Messenger of God from Abraham to Jesus Christ, to Muhammad has done this according to humanity’s needs as well as capacity of understanding. Bahá’u’lláh in 1863 declared that:

“I am the One…Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned.”

The World order of Bahá’u’lláh, p.109.

Furthermore, every person has the capacity to know God, oh this Bahá’u’lláh states in the Kitab-i-Iqan, p.199-200:

When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude.
…That city is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation…. All the guidance, the blessings, the learning, the understanding, the faith, and certitude, conferred upon all that is in heaven and on earth, are hidden and treasured within these Cities.

If there is only one true then with detachment from our idle fancies, vain imaginings and our pre-conceptions we can all attain this one truth.

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man’s hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure.

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p.7-9


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