Ridvan, which is pronounced as Riz-van is celebrated by the Bahá’ís around the world in different countries. The festival lasts for twelve days and is regarded as the king of festivals for Persians. In many of the countries which celebrate the festival there is a public holiday on the first, ninth and the twelfth day of celebration and as a result school, colleges and workplace are suspended. The festival is celebrated for commemorating the commencement of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophethood. It begins from the sunset of April 20 and ends on the 2nd of May. The festival is celebrated according to the Bahá’í calendar. The festivals start before two hours of sunset on that particular day. The time symbolizes the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the garden. One of the most fascinating things about Ridvan is melismata. Melismata is basically vocal ornamentation which is common to prayers chanted by the people of the Middle East.
Ridvan is an Arabic word and its meaning is “paradise”, which is also alternatively known as the “Most Great Festival”. The festival is celebrated for twelve days, which is the length of the time Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of Bahá’í Faith spent in the garden of Najib Pasha with the early Babis when he was exiled from the city by the Ottoman Empire. There is a great significance of the festival among Bahá’ís. The first day of the festival is described as “the fay of supreme felicity” and the garden of Ridvan is termed as “the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful”. The most important significance of the festival was because the Bahá’u’lláh’s publicly declared that he was “Him Whom God shall make manifest” and after this Bahai’s Faith begin. Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed “We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem Us a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment…. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled — what harm is there in this?”
Ridvan festival has a golden history to share with us. Before Bahá’u’lláh left for Constantinople many people came to visit him, and request him to allow them to prepare his family for trip, but instead he decided to move to the Najibyyih garden near to the Tigris river from Baghdad and receive visitors. He entered the garden thirty one days after the Naw Ruz, so the date was April 22, 1863. He was accompanied by his sons, secretary and some other followers. They stayed there for eleven days. After entering the garden Bahá’u’lláh decided to announce his mission to a small group of people, which also included his family and friends. On the first day of his stay in the garden he announced three messages. The first one was about the religious war, which was permitted under certain acts in Islam and Babi Faith. The second message was that there would not be any manifestation of God for the next thousand years and the last message was that all the names of the God is fully manifest in all aspects.