SUNDOWN WEDNESDAY, April 28: The second holy day begins for Baha’is observing the 12-day festival of Ridvan. Today, the ninth of Ridvan, marks the day when Baha’u’llah’s family joined him in the Najibiyyih Garden, the Garden of Ridvan, in Baghdad. (Get a visual perspective of Baha’u’llah’s life at The Baha’i Faith.) Although he offered no detailed explanation, Baha’u’llah declared this to be the holiest day in the Baha’i calendar. ReadTheSpirit featured an in-depth look at Ridvan when it began last week. Since this day fondly recalls Baha’u’llah’s family joining him, you might wonder: Who was that? Most sources say he had three wives and all their children surrounding him.
Prior to his departure from Baghdad, Baha’u’llah received countless visitors at home. So, to allow his family to pack for the journey to Baghdad, too, Baha’u’llah temporarily moved to a garden across the river—the Najibiyyih Garden. (Read a full biography of Baha’u’llah’s life from the University of Michigan’s Department of History.) Records state that Baha’u’llah was accompanied by his sons on his trip to the Garden, but since the river rose soon after their arrival, other family members were not able to come to the Garden until the ninth day. In an interview with Myron Phelps, an American lawyer, in 1902, one of Baha’u’llah’s daughters described the events in the Garden of Ridvan this way: “Four days before the caravan was to set out, the Blessed Perfection called Abbas Effendi [Abdu’l-Baha] into his tent and told him that he himself was the one whose coming had been promised by the Bab—the Chosen of God, the Center of the Covenant. … When our caravan started [for Baghdad], our company numbered about 75 persons.” (Wikipedia details what Baha’u’llah declared.)
Today, many Baha’is visit both the Garden of Ridvan and the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, while reading the Tablet of Visitation. (View photos of Baha’is observing the Ninth Day of Ridvan, courtesy of Baha’i World News Service.) Baha’i leaders are also elected during the festival of Ridvan, and any Baha’i over the age of 21 is eligible to vote for one of the 11,000 Local Spiritual Assemblies worldwide.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)