The Festival of Riḍván
The Festival of Riḍván
Baha’i communities worldwide celebrate their most sacred festival, Ridvan, which takes from the end of April to the beginning of May each year. This event commemorates the 12 days that Baha’u’llah spent on the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad in 1863, during which He declared His mission as God’s Messenger for a new age and revealed the spiritual principles that are the foundation of His teachings.
The name “Ridvan” means “paradise,” and during the 12 days, Baha’i communities come together to celebrate this joyous occasion.
After the Martyrdom of the Bab and the persecution of His followers, Baha’u’llah was exiled to Baghdad. During His ten-year residence in the city, He revitalized the disheartened community. However, the Shah’s regime, fearing the resurgence of the new religion’s popularity, successfully urged the Ottoman authorities to exile Baha’u’llah even farther away.
When news of Baha’u’llah’s second exile reached the community, it caused immense sadness and chaos. The numerous visitors made it impossible to prepare for the journey, so Baha’u’llah moved into a tent set up in a garden across the river to allow His family to pack.
While the Baha’i festival of Ridvan lasts for 12 days, three of those days are particularly important: the first, ninth, and twelfth.
The First Day of Ridvan
This day commemorates the Declaration of Baha’u’llah as a Manifestation of God. On this day that Baha’u’llah shared three significant teachings. He condemned religious wars, declared that there would not be another Manifestation of God for 1,000 years, and affirmed that all the names of God were fully manifested in all things. The day holds special significance in the Baha’i Faith as a reminder of its founding principles and teachings.
The Ninth Day of Ridvan
On the ninth day, the flooding Tigris receded enough for Baha’u’llah’s family to cross the river and join him in the garden. The reunion of Baha’u’llah’s family is symbolic of unity and love and it inspires the Baha’i community to celebrate the Ridvan Festival with joy.
The Twelfth Day of Ridvan
This day commemorates the exile of Baha’u’llah, his family, and several followers to Constantinople. Although this exile would lead to imprisonment, torture, sickness, hardship, and death, it would also lead to the growth and spread of Baha’u’llah’s teachings. Baha’is celebrate this day as the start of their faith and as a symbol of renewal, peace, and Baha’u’llah’s vision of unity and progress for all people.
Additionally, on the first day of Ridvan, Baha’is across the globe participate in the elections of their local governing councils, and national conventions are held in some 180 countries and territories throughout the 12 days of the Ridvan Festival.
Baha’i elections are unique in that they eschew nomination and campaigning. Instead, delegates gather to vote for their National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member council responsible for guiding and coordinating Baha’i activities in its jurisdiction.
Each year, on the first day of Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice delivers a message to the Baha’i communities worldwide.