SUNSET SATURDAY, APRIL 28: The 12-day festival of Ridvan is well underway for Baha’is, and tonight begins the next of three designated holy days during this sacred season: the Ninth Day of Ridvan. It’s recorded that on this day in 1863, Baha’u’llah’s family joined him in the garden he would later rename Ridvan, meaning “Paradise.”
Long before he entered that garden, Baha’u’llah—the Promised One of the Baha’i faith, foretold by the Bab—was living in Baghdad. The spiritual leader was gaining popularity so quickly that leaders feared him, and soon, he was exiled to Constantinople. To allow his family time to pack for the departure, Baha’u’llah took up temporary residence across the Tigris River, in the garden. Some children accompanied Baha’u’llah on his trip to the garden; most of the family waited. When the Tigris River rose, the rest of Baha’u’llah’s family was forced to stay behind—until the ninth day, that is. Years later, Baha’u’llah would specify the first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridvan as major holy days, during which Baha’is should suspend work and school. (Get an insider’s perspective from a column in the Times Colonist.) Today, the faithful gather for prayer and community celebrations on the Ninth Day of Ridvan.
Families in more countries will soon be able to express their faith in an official building, as the Baha’i Universal House of Justice recently announced plans for the building of the first two national Baha’i Temples in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea. (The Baha’i World News Service has the story.) The Universal House of Justice announced these plans on the first day of Ridvan; Baha’i Houses of Worship are open to people of all faiths, where the sacred texts of the world’s religions are read and sung.