150 Years of Ridvan and Counting: Celebrating Like a Baha’i

“Going anywhere special for The Festival this year?”

“Usually we spend Paradise at home, but this year we’re going on a 12-day luxury cruise to Baghdad.”

“Really? Oh, I’m jealous. My husband just can’t miss the Ridvan golf junket in Las Vegas, so it’s going to be more reading and pomegranate tea by the pool for me…”

No, I haven’t heard many conversations like this at devotionals or reflection meetings, either! (And aren’t we lucky? Our Holy Days still focus on the holy part.) Still, it is the Most Great Festival, and who knows what it will be in futures that more or less distantly shine in our imaginations? As with the 19 Day Feast, so with Ridvan: we have only the barest notion of how to celebrate them. As with everything, we’re learning, and nothing stops our education more quickly than the thought that we know how to celebrate our festivals and nineteen-day spiritual gatherings. They will be “unimaginably glorious”, as the Guardian might have said, but for now we do the best we can. Continue reading

The Two Gardens of Ridvan

Photo: Baha'i Media Bank

With Ridvan, The King of Festivals, upon us, we start to rejoice and reflect on all things Ridvan. With the Northern Hemisphere bursting into the full bloom of spring we start daydreaming about what it might have been like to be in the presence of Baha’u’llah, in the garden of Ridvan.

This brings us to an interesting point: there are in fact two gardens of Ridvan amongst the gardens of holy significance to the Baha’is. What the two have in common is that they were both blessed by the presence of Baha’u’llah and that they both were places of beauty and joy for Baha’u’llah and His followers. Continue reading

Celebrating Ridvan in Our Garden

Ridvan is the King of Festivals in the Baha’i calendar. The twelve days of the Festival of Ridvan mark the momentous occasion when Baha’u’llah told His supporters that He was the Promised One they had been awaiting. At that time, Baha’u’llah was in a beautiful garden on the Tigris River in Baghdad. The garden was named Ridvan, or Paradise in English, by Baha’u’llah’s followers. Roses in full bloom lined its paths. Nightingales sang throughout the night. Baha’u’llah said:

The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new.

Baha’is around the world reflect on the story of Ridvan each year. One year I realised that the Festival of Ridvan is the perfect time of year for big gardening projects. We live in Sydney, Australia so while the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying spring, we are in the midst of autumn. Each Ridvan I do things such as the mass planting of seeds, building new garden beds, pruning, etc. While I work in my garden, I reflect on the time Baha’u’llah spent in the Ridvan garden.  Continue reading

Images of Akka and its Baha’i Holy Places

The Baha’i Media Bank is a fantastic place to turn to for photos relating to the Baha’i Faith and its community building activities around the world. If you read their terms of use, you’ll see that the Baha’i International Community allows you to download and use the photos for noncommercial purposes — please don’t take my word for it and read the terms of use over carefully with your own eyes! We strive to always follow copyright law and are really grateful for this resource, whether we’re looking for historical photos or photos of children’s classes. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite photos of Akka and the Baha’i Holy Places in the prison city and its environs. I hope you enjoy this visual feast and I definitely recommend checking out the Baha’i Media Bank when you’re in need of photographs.  Continue reading

What Happened on the 12th Day of Ridvan?

The 12 day Festival of Ridvan signifies the anniversary of the Declaration of Baha’u’llah’s mission to His followers, and in The Most Holy Book Baha’u’llah ordained Ridvan as one of two of the “Most Great Festivals”, the other being the Declaration of the Bab. Although the entire festival is sacred, Baha’is suspend work on three specific days of the Ridvan Festival – the 1st, 9th and 12th days.

I don’t think there is any way to write a blog article that can summarize or make comment on such a momentous and sublime occasion as what took place when Baha’u’llah proclaimed to be the Promised One of all Ages in the Garden of Ridvan. It’s like trying to imagine the infinitude of the universe, or count all the waves in the ocean. And it’s likewise difficult to describe what took place on the 12th Day of Ridvan, when Baha’u’llah left the Ridvan Garden and began the long and arduous exile to Constantinople. Thankfully, we can turn to Baha’u’llah’s descriptions of what occurred in Days of Remembrance. Continue reading

7 Ways to Celebrate the Festival of Ridvan at Home

Now that my eldest is four years old, she understands a lot more about the significance of Baha’i holy days. This has made me increasingly reflect on how we commemorate these special days as a family aside from attending our community’s events. In the first volume of The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh describes the Ridvan Garden in Baghdad with these words:

There, Baha’u’llah appeared in the utmost joy, walking majestically in its avenues lined with flowers and trees. The fragrance of roses and the singing of nightingales created an atmosphere of beauty and enchantment.

This year we will be celebrating the King of Festivals by adding some beauty and enchantment to our daily lives in the following 7 ways:  Continue reading

Juan Pablo’s Incredible Sketches of the Holy Land

I was delighted to meet Juan Pablo Ruiz Morales a few months ago and I was equally happy to discover his sketches of Baha’i Holy places on Facebook under the name El Arte de Juampa! Better still, he agreed to tell me a bit about himself and his work, whose incredible details really transport me back to the Holy Land.

Here are a few of his words and a gallery of his work. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  Continue reading

What is Ridvan and Why Does it Have 12 Days?

Ridvan is a twelve-day festival, spanning the 13th day of Jalal to the 5th of Jamal of the Baha’i calendar, signifying the 12 days Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan meeting with visitors before His exile to Constantinople. Ridvan (which means “paradise” in Arabic) commemorates Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of all religions.

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 Shi’ih Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the ‘Spirit of God’; to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

Continue reading

A Nightingale’s Cry: A New Album by Mea

A couple of years ago, Baha’i Blog featured a great Baha’i-inspired musical initiative out of Finland called Refuge, and now one of the participants of that initiative, Mea Karvonen, has just released her very own debut album entitled A Nightingale’s Cry.

A Nightingale’s Cry is an instrumental album of piano pieces inspired by the Baha’i Faith, and the tracks comprise of both original pieces composed by Mea, and also ones inspired by songs composed by other Baha’i musicians such as Tom Price, Jean Rebstock Murday and others which have touched her in one way or another, like the piece called Grace & Favor, based on an Iranian Baha’i song she’s been singing since she was a child. Additionally, Mea has also included a download of the sheet music to these songs as well, which is always great!

I recently caught up with Mea to find out more about her music and her debut album: Continue reading

The Ridvan Message 2019 (176 BE)

The Universal House of Justice has just addressed the Baha’is of the world with the latest Ridvan message.

Each year during the Festival of Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice addresses a letter to the worldwide Baha’i community, known as the Ridvan message. These letters touch on many subjects, including the growth and vibrancy of the Baha’i community, its efforts to contribute to the life of society, and the progress of specific projects and plans. Continue reading

Changeless Faith: Ridvan and Easter

Image by Molly Stevens (Flickr)

As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.

This year, the Christian celebration of Easter coincides with Ridvan. What does Easter have to do with Ridvan, you might ask. Well, not very much, it would seem, and at first glance the two seem fairly unrelated. But over the past few days, I’ve found myself reading up about the Baha’i understanding of the events which Christians celebrate at Easter and I realised that once you remove the customs and traditions which have come to become synonymous with Easter, the real significance of Easter is very closely linked to the significance of Ridvan. Continue reading

Baha’i Ridvan Celebration – Johannesburg, South Africa

In this video, some of the Baha’is from the Baha’i community of Johannesburg, South Africa, are interviewed about Ridvan. Ridvan is a twelve-day festival in the Baha’i Faith, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s declaration that he was a Manifestation of God. In the Baha’i Calendar, it begins at sunset on the 13th of Jalal, which translates to the 20th or 21st of April, depending on the date of the March equinox. Continue reading

Unity: The Promise of Ridvan

Today, Baha’is around the world commemorate the 12th and final day of Ridvan – a period to reflect on the day Baha’u’llah first proclaimed His message of unity to the world.

Ridvan is also the time when Baha’i elections are held. These elections are a time at which Baha’i communities all around the world prayerfully reflect on the spiritual wellbeing of their community. It is also a time to reflect on Baha’u’llah’s vision for unity and for communities to think about the path of service they will tread together over the coming year in their efforts to realise this vision.

What does unity mean, however, in a world in which prejudice and conflict are still widespread? And what role does the Baha’i community have in fostering global unity?

Continue reading

The Number Nine (9) and the Baha’i Faith

Photo courtesy LEOL30 via Flickr.

Photo courtesy LEOL30 via Flickr.

As we celebrate the Ninth Day of Ridvan (one of the three days of the 12 day Baha’i Festival of Ridvan where work should be suspended) I thought it would be interesting to look at the use and significance of the number nine in the Baha’i Faith.

First of all the Ninth Day of Ridvan is significant to Baha’is because this was the day where Baha’u’llah was joined by the rest of His family in the Najibiyyih Garden (known thereafter as the Garden of Ridvan) in Baghdad, but there are also numerous uses of the number nine in the Baha’i Faith, for example: Baha’i Houses of Worship are built with nine sides and nine entrances; each Baha’i institution, such as Local and National Spiritual Assemblies and the Universal House of Justice all have nine democratically elected members. Continue reading

Audio Recording of Ridvan Message 2016

Baha’i Blog is happy to provide an audio recording of the 2016 Ridvan Message from the Universal House of Justice.

Each year on the first day of Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice addresses a letter to the worldwide Baha’i community, known as the Ridvan message. These letters touch on many subjects, including the growth and vibrancy of the Baha’i community, its efforts to contribute to the life of society, and the progress of specific projects and plans. Continue reading