SUNSET THURSDAY, APRIL 28: It’s all about family tonight as Baha’is enter the holiest day of the year: the ninth day of the 12-day festival of Ridvan. Why did Baha’u’llah, the Promised One of the Baha’i faith, declare this day so holy? The story goes like this:
The year was 1863. Baha’u’llah, a resident of Baghdad, had been gaining popularity at lighting speed. This religious leader—foretold by the Bab, his forerunner in the Baha’i faith—had frightened the rulers of the Ottoman Empire with his growing influence. Baha’u’llah was exiled to Constantinople. (The University of Michigan has a biography of Baha’u’llah.)
Swarms of visitors filled Baha’u’llah’s home prior to his departure—so much so that his family couldn’t pack their things, so he temporarily moved across the Tigris River to a garden he renamed Ridvan. (Get a Baha’i perspective at Luminous Realities, the blog of a Baha’i author.) Although a few of his sons had accompanied him to the garden, Baha’u’llah’s wives, other children and their companions stayed behind to pack. The river soon rose, though, and the entirety of Baha’u’llah’s family couldn’t join him until the river went back down—on the ninth day. (Check out an article on today’s festival at the Official Website of the Bahai’s of the U.S.)
Baha’is will commemorate the day Baha’u’llah’s family joined him by suspending work and school tomorrow. Many Baha’is will pray and read the Tablet of Visitation, one of many tablets created during Baha’u’llah’s stay in the garden. (Baha’i.org has photos from a past Ninth Day of Ridvan.) Throughout Ridvan, Baha’is also vote to elect members of their local and national Spiritual Assemblies, which administer education, programs, service projects and more to devotees.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.