Ridvan - Holy Day Devotional Program

Updated: Apr 27

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READ > Tablet of Riḍván


A devotional program to be used for the celebration of the Ridvan Baha'i Holy Days.


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Ridvan Holy Day Devotional Program
The arrival of Bahá'u'lláh in the Najibiyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridvan, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá'í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. - Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 151

Bahá'u'lláh’s counsel to His followers before leaving Baghdad:

“I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdad, in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of spring are flowing down, and I depart. With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its inhabitants”

- Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in God Passes By, Page: 149



Of the exact circumstances attending that epoch-making Declaration we, alas, are but scantily informed. The words Bahá'u'lláh actually uttered on that occasion, the manner of His Declaration, the reaction it produced, its impact on Mirza Yahya, the identity of those who were privileged to hear Him, are shrouded in an obscurity which future historians will find it difficult to penetrate. The fragmentary description left to posterity by His chronicler Nabil is one of the very few authentic records we possess of the memorable days He spent in that garden. "Every day," Nabil has related, "ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá'u'lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city." "One night," he continues, "the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: 'Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?' For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful, and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdad. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation."

- Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 152


Bahá’u’lláh Himself acclaims this historic occasion as the “Most Great Festival,” the “King of Festivals,” the “Festival of God.” He has also characterized it as the Day whereon “all created things were immersed in the sea of purification,”


In one of His specific Tablets, He has referred to it as the Day whereon “the breezes of forgiveness were wafted over the entire creation.”


“The purpose underlying all creation is the revelation of this most sublime, this most holy Day, the Day known as the Day of God, in His Books and Scriptures – the Day which all the Prophets, and the Chosen Ones, and the holy ones, have wished to witness.”

- From Advent of Divine Justice p77


To Israel He (Bahá’u’lláh) was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father," the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father," to Shi'ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. - Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, Pages: 94-96

He is God! Thou seest, O my Lord, the assemblage of Thy loved ones, the company of Thy friends, gathered by the precincts of Thine all-sufficing Shrine, and in the neighborhood of Thine exalted garden, on a day among the days of Thy Ridván Feast – that blessed time when Thou didst dawn upon the world, shedding thereon the lights of Thy holiness, spreading abroad the bright rays of Thy oneness, and didst issue forth from Baghdad, with a majesty and might that encompassed all mankind; with a glory that made all to fall prostrate before Thee, all heads to bow, every neck to bend low, and the gaze of every man to be cast down. They are calling Thee to mind and making mention of Thee, their breasts gladdened with the lights of Thy bestowals, their souls restored by the evidences of Thy gifts, speaking Thy praise, turning their faces toward Thy Kingdom, humbly supplicating Thy lofty Realms.


- `Abdu’l-Bahá: Memorials of the Faithful, Pages: 175-177.


Say: The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path. Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Page: 60.

Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.


Suffer me not, O my Lord, to be deprived of the knowledge of Thee in Thy days, and divest me not of the robe of Thy guidance. Give me to drink of the river that is life indeed, whose waters have streamed forth from the Paradise (Ridván) in which the throne of Thy Name, the All-Merciful, was established, that mine eyes may be opened, and my face be illumined, and my heart be assured, and my soul be enlightened, and my steps be made firm.

- Bahá’u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, p.4.


Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.


Great indeed is this Day! The allusions made to it in all the sacred Scriptures as the Day of God attest its greatness. The soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted for this wondrous Day. All the divers kindreds of the earth have, likewise, yearned to attain it. No sooner, however, had the Day Star of His Revelation manifested itself in the heaven of God's Will, than all, except those whom the Almighty was pleased to guide, were found dumbfounded and heedless.


O thou that hast remembered Me! The most grievous veil hath shut out the peoples of the earth from His glory, and hindered them from hearkening to His call. God grant that the light of unity may envelop the whole earth, and that the seal, "the Kingdom is God's", may be stamped upon the brow of all its peoples.

Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 10


The Festival of Ridván is come and the splendour of the light of God is shining from the invisible horizon of His mercy. The overflowing grace of the Lord of oneness is pouring down copiously from the unseen world and the glad-tidings of the Kingdom are coming in from all countries. The resplendent morn that betokens the advancement of the Cause of God and heralds the exaltation of His Word is dawning in every region. Praise be to God that the fame of the Ancient Beauty - may my life be offered up for His loved ones - has been noised abroad in the world and the glory of His Cause is spread far and wide throughout the East and the West. These joyous developments will indeed gladden the hearts of His loved ones Shoghi Effendi: Bahiyyih Khanum, Page: 112

The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy peace. The day star of blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the kingdom of the name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the name of thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Arise before the nations of the earth, and arm thyself with the power of this Most Great Name, and be not of those who tarry.


This is the Day whereon naught can be seen except the splendors of the Light that shineth from the face of Thy Lord, the Gracious, the Most Bountiful. Verily, We have caused every soul to expire by virtue of Our irresistible and all-subduing sovereignty. We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace unto men. I am, verily, the All-Bountiful, the Ancient of Days.


This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: "Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the foot-stool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne." The realm of glory exclaimeth: "Would that my life could be sacrificed for thee, for He Who is the Beloved of the All-Merciful hath established His sovereignty upon thee, through the power of His Name that hath been promised unto all things, whether of the past or of the future." This is the Day whereon every sweet smelling thing hath derived its fragrance from the smell of My garment -- a garment that hath shed its perfume upon the whole of creation. This is the Day whereon the rushing waters of everlasting life have gushed out of the Will of the All-Merciful. Haste ye, with your hearts and souls, and quaff your fill, O Concourse of the realms above!


Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind.


Say: This is the Paradise on whose foliage the wine of utterance hath imprinted the testimony: "He that was hidden from the eyes of men is revealed, girded with sovereignty and power!" This is the Paradise, the rustling of whose leaves proclaims: "O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared. He Who, from everlasting, had concealed His Face from the sight of creation is now come." From the whispering breeze that wafteth amidst its branches there cometh the cry: "He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is made manifest. The Kingdom is God's," while from its streaming waters can be heard the murmur: "All eyes are gladdened, for He Whom none hath beheld, Whose secret no one hath discovered, hath lifted the veil of glory, and uncovered the countenance of Beauty."


This is the Day whereon He Who is the Revealer of the names of God hath stepped out of the Tabernacle of glory, and proclaimed unto all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth: "Put away the cups of Paradise and all the life-giving waters they contain, for lo, the people of Baha have entered the blissful abode of the Divine Presence, and quaffed the wine of reunion, from the chalice of the beauty of their Lord, the All-Possessing, the Most High."


The Best-Beloved is come. In His right hand is the sealed Wine of His name. Happy is the man that turneth unto Him, and drinketh his fill, and exclaimeth: "Praise be to Thee, O Revealer of the signs of God!" By the righteousness of the Almighty! Every hidden thing hath been manifested through the power of truth. All the favors of God have been sent down, as a token of His grace. The waters of everlasting life have, in their fullness, been proffered unto men. Every single cup hath been borne round by the hand of the Well-Beloved. Draw near, and tarry not, though it be for one short moment.


Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His name, the All-Merciful. God is Our witness. Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all they that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.


Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon Him Who is the Revealer of His undoubted proofs, that His Pen can move no longer. With these words He concludeth His Tablet: "No God is there but Me, the Most Exalted, the Most Powerful, the Most Excellent, the All-Knowing."


Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 33

Selections from the writings of Baha'u'llah on the importance of this day:


This is the Day in which God's most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things.

This is the Day whereon the Ocean of God's mercy hath been manifested unto men, the Day in which the Day Star of His loving-kindness hath shed its radiance upon them, the Day in which the clouds of His bountiful favor have overshadowed the whole of mankind.


The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him.


Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One.

Great indeed is this Day! The allusions made to it in all the sacred Scriptures as the Day of God attest its greatness. The soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted for this wondrous Day. All the divers kindreds of the earth have, likewise, yearned to attain it.


This is the Day which the Pen of the Most High hath glorified in all the holy Scriptures.

All glory be to this Day, the Day in which the fragrances of mercy have been wafted over all created things, a Day so blest that past ages and centuries can never hope to rival it, a Day in which the countenance of the Ancient of Days hath turned towards His holy seat.


This is the Day when the loved ones of God should keep their eyes directed towards His Manifestation, and fasten them upon whatsoever that Manifestation may be pleased to reveal.


This is the Day whereon He Who is the Revealer of the names of God hath stepped out of the Tabernacle of glory, and proclaimed unto all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth: "Put away the cups of Paradise and all the life-giving waters they contain, for lo, the people of Baha have entered the blissful abode of the Divine Presence, and quaffed the wine of reunion, from the chalice of the beauty of their Lord, the All-Possessing, the Most High."


Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His name, the All-Merciful.


This is a matchless Day. Matchless must, likewise, be the tongue that celebrateth the praise of the Desire of all nations, and matchless the deed that aspireth to be acceptable in His sight.

This is the Day whereon the All-Merciful hath come down in the clouds of knowledge, clothed with manifest sovereignty.


This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation "Seal of the Prophets" fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come.


The excellence of this Day is immensely exalted above the comprehension of men, however extensive their knowledge, however profound their understanding.

This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: "Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the foot-stool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne." The realm of glory exclaimeth: "Would that my life could be sacrificed for thee, for He Who is the Beloved of the All-Merciful hath established His sovereignty upon thee, through the power of His Name that hath been promised unto all things, whether of the past or of the future." This is the Day whereon every sweet smelling thing hath derived its fragrance from the smell of My garment -- a garment that hath shed its perfume upon the whole of creation. This is the Day whereon the rushing waters of everlasting life have gushed out of the Will of the All-Merciful. Haste ye, with your hearts and souls, and quaff your fill, O Concourse of the realms above!

The Story of Ridvan

[With prompts for props]


Good morning everyone.


Today I’m going to share with you a very special story. A story about the Festival of Ridvan – the King of Festivals! [Place crown on head] Baha’is all around the world celebrate these 12 days [place 1, 9, 12 on clothes line] starting from April the 21st.


Now you may be wondering why we would celebrate this Most Great Festival?

Well it all started a long, long time ago in Persia when in 1844 [Powerpoint of map] The Bab had arisen to proclaim the coming of a great Messenger from God, the Promised one of all religions. During His six-year ministry the Báb called the people of Persia to purify themselves in preparation for the arrival of "He whom God shall make manifest." Baha’u’llah, one of the Bab’s foremost followers, was put into prison in 1853 on false charges. While in prison, He experienced a revelation from God in which He learned that He was to be that Promised One foretold by the Bab. But when He was released from prison a few months later, He told no one about that experience, not even His family. In fact He kept it a secret for 10 years.


Meanwhile, in Iran, Baha’u’llah’s character, wisdom, and deep spiritual insight continued to affect all who came into contact with Him and as His fame and influence grew, the Perisan government began to worry. They decided to send Baha’u’llah far away, to the city of Baghdad. [Powerpoint of map]


The Persian Government had hoped that by sending Baha’u’llah far away people would forget about Him. The opposite happened. News of Baha’u’llahs great love and wisdom spread far and wide, and people travelled great distances to see Him and hear His words. After 10 years of living in Baghdad, the government were again afraid of His popularity and decided to have Him moved away from Persia as far as possible. With the help of the Grand Vizir from Turkey (that’s like the Prime Minister), it was ordered that Baha’u’llah would be sent to the city of Constantinople (which is known today as Istanbul). [Powerpoint of map]

The news of His forthcoming departure for Constantinople had spread rapidly among the inhabitants of Baghdad and its neighbouring towns, and large numbers wished to attain His presence and pay their last tributes to Baha’u’llah. But soon it became apparent that His house was too small for the purpose so Najib Pasha, one of the notables of the city of Baghdad immediately offered his garden-park, Najibiyyih to Baha’u’llah. [Powerpoint picture] This beautiful garden, designated by His followers as the Garden of Ridvan (which means paradise) was on the outskirts of Baghdad, across the river [place down river] from Baha’u’llahs house.


On 22nd April 1863, [sign: 22nd April 1863] in the afternoon Baha’u’llah moved to this garden. The departure of Baha’u’llah from His house witnessed a commotion Baghdad had rarely seen. People of all walks of life, men and women, rich and poor, young and old, men of learning and culture, princes, government officials, tradesmen and workers, and above all His companions, lined His house and crowded the streets and roof-tops along His route to the river. They were lamenting and weeping the departure of One Who, for 10 years, had imparted to them the warmth of His love and the radiance of His spirit, Who had been an refuge and guide to them all. When Baha’u’llah appeared in the courtyard of His house His companions, grief-stricken and disconsolate threw themselves as His feet. The scenes of lamentation and weeping outside the house were no less spectacular and heart-rending. These demonstrations continued all the way to the bank of the river.


Baha’u’llah was then ferried across the river with 3 of His sons including Abdu’l-Baha and some other companions to the Garden of Ridvan.


It really was a garden of paradise. The avenues were lined with trees and roses. [Place down roses] The fragrance of the roses was so beautiful and strong. [Pass around roses to smell] And the singing of nightingales created an atmosphere of beauty and enchantment. [Powerpoint picture of nightingales and play sound].


In the garden of Ridvan several tents [place tents] were raised where Baha’u’llah and His companions could sleep. They remained in this garden for 12 days. During this time, Baha’u’llah received His guests with great kindness. And it was in this garden that something marvellous happened. Here, Baha’u’llah announced at last, that He was the Promised One foretold by the Bab, the Manifestation of God for this day. [Sign: Baha’u’llah – Manifestation of God for today!]


He told them that He had come with a Message from God to bring new laws and teachings to all the people of the world. This was Baha’u’llahs first declaration of His religion, and His first announcement of a New Day.


Although the friends were sad that Baha’u’llah was leaving Baghdad, as soon as He made that announcement sadness and grief vanished and the believers were filled with delight.

On that same day, Baha’u’llah made 3 other important statements.


The first was to forbid the use of the sword. [Sign: #1: sword is finished!] That means that we are not allowed to use violence to solve problems but rather to use our words. The tongue of the believer who teaches the cause, He stated in one Tablet, is the mightiest sword he possess, for his utterances are endowed with a power that can remove veils of ignorance from the hearts of men.


The second statement made by Baha’u’llah on the first day of Ridvan was that no other Manifestation of God would appear earlier than 1000yrs. [Sign: #2: no other Messenger for 1000] So that means there will be no other Manifestation of God before the year 2863.

And the third statement made by Baha’u’llah on that day was that the moment He uttered those words, all the names and attributes of God were fully manifested within all created things. [Sign: #3: New Day – fresh capacity within all created things] By this He implied the coming of a new Day and the infusion of a fresh capacity into all beings.


Everyone in the garden was delighted to be in Baha’u’llah’s company and enjoy the peace and excitement of those days.


Unfortunately however, on the first day when Baha’u’llah had crossed the river to the garden, that same day the river overflowed [Wave river up and down] to the point where no one could cross and only on the 9th day was it possible for His family to join Him. This is why we celebrate the 9th day of Ridvan. A joyous day when the Holy family were reunited! [Sign: Family entered the garden of Ridvan]


During the 12 days that Baha’u’llah remained in the Garden of Ridvan, great numbers came to pay their respects to Him. Among them were notables and dignitaries of the city of Baghdad, men of learning and culture, as well as a mass of the people who were His admirers. As to the believers, Baha’u’llah would summon a number of His companions to come to Him each day and would dismiss them in the evening. Only those without family ties were allowed to remain for the night, when some of them would keep vigil around His tent.


Nabil, one of the close companions, was with Baha’u’llah in the Garden of Ridvan. He said that every morning the gardeners would pick roses from the bushes in the garden [grab rose and place infront of tent] and pile them in the centre of the floor of Baha’u’llah’s tent. “So great would be the heap [place bean bag in front] that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it,” Nabil wrote later. Every day, Baha’u’llah would give the roses away as presents to His friends. [give roses to the kids?] Nabil remembered that the birds in the garden sang constantly at night. [Replay sound of the Nightingales] He wrote: “So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side, that only those who were near Him [Baha’u’llah] could hear distinctly His voice.” He says that Baha’u’llah was awake day and night, speaking with visitors and saying goodbye to friends. There was a feeling of happiness in the air. Nabil remembered those days as a magical time.


After 12 days in that garden, at noon on 3rd May 1863, [sign: noon, 3rd May 1863] Baha’u’llah left the city of Baghdad forever. Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion [sign: picture of horse] 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. Crowds of people came to say goodbye. Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with awe and wonder. Numerous were the heads 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.


No one ever forgot Baha’u’llah’s days in the Garden of Ridvan. Every year we also remember them and celebrate them. Baha’i’s come together to say prayers and to remember Baha’u’llah’s declaration of His mission to the first Baha’i’s. Baha’u’llah has called the celebration of these Holy Days the “Most Great Festival”, the “King of Festivals” and the “Festival of God”.


The End!


READ > Tablet of Riḍván


Also Available > 9th Day of Ridvan Holy Day Program


Also Available > 12th Day of Ridvan Holy Day Program

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