BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — For 12 days at the end of April and beginning of May, Baha’i communities around the world celebrated their most holy festival: Ridvan.
This annual festival marks the anniversary of the days Baha’u’llah spent along the River Tigris in Baghdad.
In 1863, Baha’u’llah stayed in a garden on the banks of the Tigris River for 12 days, during which His many admirers in the city came to bid Him farewell. Baha’u’llah announced to the friends gathered with Him during those days that He was God’s Messenger for a new age, foretold in the world’s scriptures. He called the garden they were gathered in “Ridvan,” meaning “paradise.”
The Ridvan period was also a time when Baha’u’llah proclaimed the foundational spiritual principles that lie at the heart of His teachings—signaling the arrival of a new stage in the evolution of the life of humanity, characterized by peace and an end to violence.
Today, the festival of Ridvan is the most joyous of Baha’i holy days. In villages, towns, and cities around the world, Baha’i communities celebrate these special days with gatherings open to all.
In thousands of localities around the globe on the first day of Ridvan, Baha’is also vote for their local governing councils. And throughout the 12-day festival of Ridvan, national conventions are held in some 180 countries and territories, during which delegates gather to vote for their National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member council responsible for guiding, coordinating, and stimulating the activities of the Baha’is in its jurisdiction. Baha’i elections are distinct for their lack of nomination and campaigning. This year, national elections took place over two weekends: 22-23 April and 29-30 April.
Every year on the first day of Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice addresses a message to the Baha’is of the World. This year’s message calls attention to the reality that “humanity’s ultimate well-being is dependent upon its differences being transcended and its unity firmly established.”
“Every contribution Baha’is make to the life of their society,” it states, “is aimed at fostering unity; every community-building endeavour is directed towards the same end.”
Republished from the Bahá’í World News Service.