(Compiled by Jaya Raju Thota)
This year i.e. 2020, Baháʼís throughout the world celebrate the 12-Day Festival of Riḍván, "The King of Festivals, " and The Most Great Festival".
In thousands of localities around the globe on the first day of Riḍván, i.e. on 13 Jalál 177 B.E (Baháʼí Era), the 20th April of 2020, Baháʼís also vote for their local Governing Councils.
Riḍván is a twelve-day festival in the Baháʼí Faith, commemorating Baháʼu'lláh's declaration that He was a Supreme Manifestation of God.
In the Baháʼí Calendar, Riḍván begins at sunset on the 13th of Jalál, which translates to the 20th or 21st of April, depending on the date of the March equinox (exactly one month on the Gregorian calendar after the equinox).
Before Baháʼu'lláh left for Constantinople, many visitors came to visit Him. To allow His family to prepare for the trip, and to be able to receive all these visitors, He decided to move to the Najibiyyih garden across the Tigris river from Baghdad. He entered the garden on 21 April 1863 (31 days after Naw Rúz, which usually occurs on 21 March) accompanied by His sons ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, Mírzá Mihdí and Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí, His secretary Mirza Aqa Jan and some others, and stayed there for eleven days.
After His arrival in the garden, Baháʼu'lláh announced His mission and Station for the first time to a small group of family and friends. The exact nature and details of Baháʼu'lláh's declaration are unknown. Bahíyyih Khánum is reported to have said that Baháʼu'lláh stated his claim to his son ʻAbdu'l-Bahá and four others. While some Bábís had come to the realization that Baháʼu'lláh was claiming to be the Promised One through the many remarks and allusions that He had made during His final few months in Baghdad, it appears that most other Bábís were unaware of Baháʼu'lláh's claim until a few years later while he was in Edirne.
For the next eleven days Baháʼu'lláh received visitors including the governor of Baghdad. Baháʼu'lláh's family was not able to join Him until 30 April, the ninth day, since the river had risen and made travel to the garden difficult though lasting only nine days was a comparatively mild flooding of the river.
On the twelfth day of their stay in the garden, Baháʼu'lláh and His family left the garden and started on their journey to Constantinople.
Riḍván is the anniversary of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration of His Prophetic Mission to His followers. It is clear, however, that the symbolic significance of Riḍván is richer than the simple fact of Bahá'u'lláh's open announcement of His Prophetic claim.
"Ridván" means paradise, and is named for the Garden of Ridván outside Baghdad, where Baháʼu'lláh stayed for twelve days after the Ottoman Empire exiled Him from the city and before commencing His journey to Constantinople.
It is the holiest Baháʼí festival, and is also referred to as the "Most Great Festival" and the "King of Festivals".
The time that Baháʼu'lláh spent at the Garden of Ridván in April 1863, and the associated festival and celebration, has a very large significance for Baháʼís. Baháʼu'lláh calls it one of two "Most Great Festivals" and describes the first day as "the Day of supreme felicity" and he then describes the "Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of his Name, the All-Merciful".
The announcement. The exact nature and details of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration are unknown. `Abdu'l-Bahá states that on the afternoon He arrived in Ridván Bahá'u'lláh disclosed his claim to be Him Whom God shall make manifest, the Prophet promised by the Bab. Bahiyyih Khanum, however, is reported to have said that on that day Bahá'u'lláh privately stated his claim to prophethood to `Abdu'l- Baha and four other followers.
The festival is significant because of Baháʼu'lláh's private declaration to a few followers that he was "Him Whom God shall make manifest" and a Manifestation of God, and thus it forms the beginning point of the Baháʼí Faith, as distinct from the Babi religion. It is also significant because Baháʼu'lláh left His house in Baghdad, which he designated the "Most Great House", to enter the Garden of Ridván. Baháʼu'lláh compares this move from the Most Great House to the Garden of Ridván to Muhammad's travel from Mecca to Medina.
Furthermore, during Baháʼu'lláh's first day in the garden, He made three further announcements: (1) abrogating religious war, which was permitted under certain conditions in Islam and the Bábí faith; (2) that there would not be another Manifestation of God for another 1,000 years; and (3) that all the names of God were fully manifest in all things.
These statements appear in a text written some years after 1863, which has been included in the compilation Days of Remembrance
The Festival of Ridván is observed according to the Baháʼí calendar, and begins on the thirty-second day of the Baháʼí year, which falls on 20 or 21 April. The festival properly starts at two hours before sunset on that day, which symbolises the time that Baháʼu'lláh entered the garden.
Currently, the three holy days are usually observed with a community gathering where prayers are shared, followed with a celebration.
The Summons of the Lord of Hosts is a collection of the tablets of Baháʼu'lláh, Founder of the Baháʼí Faith, that were written to the kings and rulers of the world during His exile in Adrianople and in the early years of His exile to the fortress city of Acre (Akka) (now in Israel) in 1868. Baháʼu'lláh claimed to be the Promised One of all religions and all ages and summoned the leaders of East and West to recognize Him as the Promised One. The Summons of the Lord of Hosts is the printing of five distinct tablets of this material.
The Festival of Ridván is observed according to the Baháʼí calendar, and begins on the thirty-second day of the Baháʼí year, which falls on 20 or 21 April.
The festival properly starts at two hours before sunset on that day, which symbolises the time that Baháʼu'lláh entered the garden.
Currently, the three holy (April 20, 28 & May 1, 2020) days are usually observed with a community gathering where prayers are shared, followed with a celebration.
Today, the festival of Ridván is the most joyous of Baháʼí holy days. In villages, towns, and cities around the world, Baha'i communities celebrate these special days with gatherings open to all.
On the first (April 20), ninth (April 28) and twelfth (May 1) days of Ridván, work and school should be suspended.