12th Day of Ridvan Devotional Program
A Suggested Devotional Program to Celebrate the Baha'i Faith Holy Day - 12th Day of Ridvan
Over one hundred and fifty years ago Baha’u’llah rode out of Baghdad’s Ridvan Garden into the danger of the unknown.
Along with his family, a few of his followers and a retinue of Turkish troops as guards, they went on foot, by wagon and horseback over desert and rugged mountains toward exile and imprisonment. None of them knew whether they would be tortured, starved or executed.
Ultimately, Baha’u’llah’s four-month journey from Baghdad led him further away from his native land and into lifelong incarceration. About that supreme sacrifice, he wrote:
My body hath endured imprisonment that ye may be released from the bondage of self. Set your faces then towards His countenance and follow not the footsteps of every hostile oppressor. Verily, He hath consented to be sorely abased that ye may attain unto glory … – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 11.
Rather than expressing melancholy remembrance, Baha’is joyously celebrate the 12th Day of Ridvan as one of the high points of the Baha’i year. We happily observe this day as a festival of renewal and peace, commemorating the joyful beginnings of the Baha’i Faith. This momentous day demonstrates the power of the revelation of Baha’u’llah to transmute tragedy into triumph, bring forth light from darkness, and wrest victory from seeming defeat.
(abridged from ‘Celebrating the Tragedy and Triumph of the 12th Day of Ridvan’)
This is the Voice of God, if ye do but hearken. This is the Day Spring of the Revelation of God, did ye but know it. This is the Dawning-Place of the Cause of God, were ye to recognize it. This is the Source of the commandment of God, did ye but judge it fairly. This is the manifest and hidden Secret; would that ye might perceive it. O peoples of the world! Cast away, in My name that transcendeth all other names, the things ye possess, and immerse yourselves in this Ocean in whose depths lay hidden the pearls of wisdom and of utterance … – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 33
Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed, the best His lovers could purchase for Him, and leaving behind Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of Constantinople. “Numerous were the heads,” Nabil himself a witness of that memorable scene, recounts, “which, on every side, bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs, and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His stirrups.” “How great the number of those embodiments of fidelity,” testifies a fellow-traveler, “who, casting themselves before that charger, preferred death to separation from their Beloved! Methinks, that blessed steed trod upon the bodies of those pure-hearted souls.” “He (God) it was,” Baha’u’llah Himself declares, “Who enabled Me to depart out of the city (Baghdad), clothed with such majesty as none, except the denier and the malicious, can fail to acknowledge.” These marks of homage and devotion continued to surround Him until He was installed in Constantinople.
- God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi
Although Baha’u’llah had commanded the friends not to follow them, I was so loath to let Him go out of my sight, that I ran after them for three hours.
He saw me, and getting down from His horse, waited for me, telling me with His beautiful voice, full of love and kindness, to go back to Baghdad, and with the friends, to set about our work, not slothfully, but with energy:
“Be not overcome with sorrow—I am leaving friends I love in Baghdad. I will surely send to them tidings of our welfare. Be steadfast in your service to God, who doeth whatsoever He willeth. Live in such peace as will be permitted to you.”
We watched them disappear into the darkness with sinking hearts, for their enemies were powerful and cruel! And we knew not where they were being taken. An unknown destination!
Weeping bitterly, we turned our faces toward Baghdad, determined to live according to His command
– from Mirza Asadu’llah Kashani, quoted by Lady Blomfield in The Chosen Highway, pp. 122-123.
Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion. - God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi
In the arrival and departure of the Ancient Beauty, the signs and tokens of God were made clear and evident, and the light of Revelation was made to shine forth in the plenitude of its glory. Verily, His majesty was exalted, His power magnified, and His sovereignty revealed.
- Ibid, p119
Glory be to Thee, O Lord my God! Make manifest the rivers of Thy sovereign might, that the waters of Thy Unity may flow through the inmost realities of all things, in such wise that the banner of Thine unfailing guidance may be raised aloft in the kingdom of Thy command and the stars of Thy divine splendor may shine brightly in the heaven of Thy majesty.
Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou, verily, art the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.