SUNSET FRIDAY, APRIL 20: It’s the Divine Springtime for Baha’is worldwide, as the faithful welcome the 12-day festival of Ridvan. When the Baha’i Promised One, Baha’u’llah, entered the Najibiyyih Garden in 1863, he stayed for 12 days—and thus, Ridvan consists of 12 days. In what Western Baha’is refer to as the Ridvan Tablet, it’s written that the “Divine Springtime”—Baha’u’llah—came to be “the trumpet of the Day of Resurrection.” (Learn more from the Baha’i Library.) According to this tablet, God commanded Baha’u’llah to gain the love of God’s people through His Word; it was also in this garden that Baha’u’llah made several vital announcements, including his public proclamation as the Promised One of the Bab.
While imprisoned in Iran, Baha’u’llah received a revelation: He was the Promised One the Bab had described. The future Baha’i leader didn’t proclaim his status right away, however. Still, once he was out of prison, Baha’u’llah gained popularity at such an alarming rate that the Persian government grew nervous—and exiled him and his family to Constantinople. (Wikipedia has details.) It was prior to this move that Baha’u’llah entered the garden, so that he could give his family time to pack amid the influx of visitors who came to bid him farewell. Two hours before sunset on April 21, Baha’u’llah, his sons, his secretary and a few others entered the garden. (Note: Although Ridvan begins tonight, that’s because a Baha’i day begins at sunset; Ridvan doesn’t officially begin until two hours before sunset tomorrow.)
The “King of Festivals” continues for 11 days from today, and on three days—the first, ninth and 12th—work and school are suspended. Community gatherings are most popular events for the days of Ridvan, and prayer reflects the three announcements Baha’u’llah made during this time: that religious war is abrogated; that there would not be another Manifestation of God for another 1,000 years; and that all names of God were fully manifest in all things. (Get a Baha’i perspective on this festival’s importance at PlanetBahai.) Today, the Baha’i administrative year begins on the first day of Ridvan and elections take place for Local and National Spiritual Assemblies.