Ridvan

Ridvan (Rizwhan)

Type of Holiday: Religious (Baha'i)
Date of Observation: April 21-May 2
Where Celebrated: Worldwide
Symbols and Customs: Abstaining from Work, Elections, Reenactments

ORIGINS

The Baha'i faith was established in 1863 by Baha'u'llah, a Persian (Iranian) prophet who is regarded by the faithful as the Messenger of God. Ridvan (alternately Rizwhan) commemorates the events that occurred over the course of twelve days that Baha'u'llah spent in a rose garden in Baghdad, Iraq. There he revealed himself to be the fulfillment of the prophecies of all previous religions. In doing so, Baha'u'llah founded the Baha'i religion, which is based on his teachings. He established this as the "Most Great Festival" and specified that the first, ninth, and twelfth days of Ridvan should be observed as holidays and that work should be suspended.

Ridvan is regarded as the King of Festivals and is one of the most important holidays of the Baha'i year. During the twelve-day observance, the faithful meet for communal prayer and socializing, with specific customs varying according to local cultural practices. Meeting rooms may be decorated with roses or draped with white cloth to represent the outdoor canopy used by Baha'u'llah in the garden. Accounts of Baha'u'llah's revelations may be read aloud. In some Baha'i communities, reenactments depict significant events of Ridvan, while music and choral performances may also be staged.

On a less spiritual note, administrative business for the worldwide Baha'i organization is also conducted during Ridvan, including elections of religious leaders.

SYMBOLS AND CUSTOMS

Abstaining from Work

The first (April 21), ninth (April 29), and twelfth (May 2) days of Ridvan are observed as holy days. These three days commemorate the anniversaries of Baha'u'llah's arrival in the garden, the subsequent arrival of his relatives, and Ridvan

his departure for Constantinople (now known as Istanbul, Turkey). On these days Baha'is abstain from work to spend time in individual or communal prayer and reflection.

Elections

The worldwide Baha'i religious community is administered by the members of Spiritual Assemblies, which operate at the local, national, and international level. Spiritual Assembly members are elected annually during Ridvan. All members of the Baha'i faith are equally eligible to vote in these elections.

Reenactments

Some Baha'i communities stage pageants or theatrical reenactments to depict the significant events of Ridvan. These presentations typically focus on the arrival of Baha'u'llah at the garden, his declaration of himself as the Messenger of God, pertinent teachings he delivered during the twelve days of Ridvan, and his departure for Turkey from Iraq.

FURTHER READING

Bellenir, Karin. Religious Holidays and Calendars, 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2004. Bowers, Kenneth E. God Speaks Again: An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Wilmette, IL: Baha'i Publications, 2004. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. Smith, Peter. A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith. Boston: Oneworld, 2000.

WEB SITE

National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the U. S. www.bahai.us/festival-of-ridvan
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