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Get ready for the “King of Festivals”: Ridvan

 

Photo by PamelaB licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ridvan is a 12 day festival thats celebrated in the Bahai faith

During Ridvan there are three holy days where people do not go to work or school. Instead, the community joins with friends to celebrate these gatherings that are open to all.

It is also a time when Bahá'ís elect their local spiritual assemblies.

This year, Ridvan begins at sunset on April 21 and lasts until sunset on May 2.

 

A Ridvan celebration in Marbella, Spain
Bahá'ís celebrate Ridvan in Marbella, Spain. Copyright © Bahá'í International Community


What is the history behind Ridvan?

Nine pointed star is the symbol of the Bahai faith

Ridvan celebrates the beginning of the Bahá'í faith in the 19th century. In 1863, a Persian nobleman named Bahá’u’lláh spent 12 days in a garden which he called Ridvan — the Arabic word for "paradise."

During this stay, he announced to his family, friends and followers that he was the Messenger of God. He went on to become the founder of the Bahá'í faith and wrote many religious writings that are still important to this day.

Bahá’u’lláh’s stay in the garden is celebrated each year as the festival of Ridvan.


Why are there so many gardens?

Garden near the Shrine of Bahá´u´lláh near Akká
Garden near the Shrine of Bahá´u´lláh near Akká. (Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bahá’u’lláh’s time spent in the Garden of Ridvan is an important part of the Bahá'í faith. In fact, gardens have taken on a great meaning in the religion. Baha’u’llah said, “In the garden of thy heart, plant naught but the rose of love.”

The lush gardens serve as a reminder of the garden where Bahá’u’lláh remained for those 12 days.

What do Bahá'í houses of worship look like?

Lotus temple in India
Lotus temple in India. Photo by Sven Lindner licensed CC BY 2.0

The Bahá'í houses of worship can be found all over the world and are surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. 

 

Bahai House of Worship in Chile
Visitors sit among the gardens at the Continental Bahá’í House of Worship of South America (Santiago, Chile). Copyright © Bahá'í International Community

Although each one can look unique, each house of worship has the same four characteristics: they are circular in shape, have nine sides, a dome and are surrounded by nine gardens with walkways.

 

Inside the Bahá'í Temple in Wilmette, Illinois.
Inside the Bahá'í Temple in Wilmette, Illinois. Photo by Bahal.us licensed CC BY-NC 2.0