Twelfth Day of Ridvan
Festival of Ridvan
“The twelve day period commemorating Bahá’u’lláh’s announcement of his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad in 1863, observed from sunset 20 April to sunset, 2 May. The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridvan are major Bahá’í holy days on which work should be suspended. Bahá’í elections are normally held during Ridvan. The name derives from the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during this period and to which he gave the name Ridvan (Paradise) (Walbridge 1995).”
“The twelfth day was appointed for departure. The garden was filled with people coming for final farewells. It was late afternoon before the party got underway. Bahá’u’lláh mounted a fine roan stallion named Sa`udi (he also had two others, named Sa`id and Farangi), and the party left the garden amidst displays of affection and grief. The party travelled as far as Firayjat, three miles up the Tigris. There they stayed in a borrowed garden for a week while Bahá’u’lláh’s brother Mirza Musa completed dealing with their affairs in Baghdad and packing the remaining goods. Visitors still came daily. The party finally set out on 9 May for the three-month journey to Istanbul (Walbridge 1995).”
Tablets and writings associated with Ridvan
“A number of important tablets of Bahá’u’lláh are associated with Ridvan. These include:
a. Lawh-i-Ayyub. The Tablet of Job, also known as Suriy-i-Sabr (“the Surih of Patience”), Madinatu’s-Sabr (“the City of Patience”), and Surat Ayyub. A long tablet in Arabic revealed on the afternoon Bahá’u’lláh arrived at the garden of Ridvan. It was written for Haji Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Nayrizi, whom Bahá’u’lláh surnamed Ayyub, “Job,” a veteran of the battle of Nayriz. The tablet praises Vahid (q.v.), the Babi leader at Nayriz, and the believers of Nayriz. (Ayyam-i-Tis`ih 262-304)
b. Tablet of Ridvan, beginning “Huva ‘l-Mustavi `ala hadha ‘l- `arshi’l-munir” “He is seated upon this luminous throne.” An Arabic tablet speaking joyfully of the lifting of the veils that had concealed God’s beauty and the manifestation of all his names in created things and appealing to the people to answer the call of their Lord. After each verse is a refrain of the form, “Glad tidings! This is the Festival of God, manifest from the horizon of transcendent bounty.” (Ayyam-i-Tis`ih 246-50)
c. Hur-i-`Ujab: “The Wondrous Maiden.” An allegorical tablet in Arabic rhymed prose celebrated the unveiling of Bahá’u’lláh’s glory. In this allegory the Maid of Heaven comes forth and unveils herself. Her unveiled beauty inflames creation. In joy she passes around the wine of life, plays music, and serves the food of beauty. But the arrogant reject her and she returns saddened to her heavenly palace, grieving that the people of the Book have rejected her and vowing not to return to them until the Day of Resurrection (Ayyam-i-Tis`ih 251- 54. RB 1:218).
d. “The Divine Springtime is come. . . “: (Qad ata Rabi`u’l-Bayan) The superscription of this tablet says that it “was revealed in the Ridvan for all to read during the Festival of Ridvan. . .” The tablet takes the form of a dialogue between God and “the Most Exalted Pen” – i.e., Bahá’u’lláh. God chides Bahá’u’lláh for not openly proclaiming the greatness of this day. Bahá’u’lláh replies that he is silent only because the people are veiled. God answers that today only His face can be seen in creation. God excuses Bahá’u’lláh’s silence and proclaims that he has made Bahá’u’lláh the trumpet of the Day of Resurrection. The tablet explains in mystical terms the significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s entry into the garden of Ridvan and commands Bahá’u’lláh to attract the hearts of men through the Word of God. The tablet appeals to the believers to heed the call of God. Bahá’u’lláh concludes the tablet with the statement that the Word of God had so inebriated him that he can write no longer. This well-known and frequently-quoted tablet is frequently referred to by western Bahá’ís as the Ridvan Tablet. (Ayyam-i-Tis`ih 254-61; GWB xiv; Days to Remember 27-31)
e. “When the gladness of God seized all else. . .”: (Fa-lamma akhadha farahu’llah kulla ma sivahu. . .) An Arabic tablet in which Bahá’u’lláh describes, with much mystical symbolism, his departure from the Most Great House, the grief of the people in the streets, his crossing of the Tigris and entry into the garden, and his final departure. This tablet is a rich source for understanding the symbolic significance of Ridvan and provides some historical information as well. (Ayyam-i-Tis`ih 305-12)
f. Other tablets and talks: There are other prayers, tablets and talks of Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá relating to Ridvan, usually composed at or for a particular Ridvan observance. (Ayyam-i-Tis`ih 313-21, 324-31; Days to Remember 31-34; AVK 3:29-39). (Walbridge 1995).”
Walbridge, John. 1995. “Ridvan.” in “Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time” Baha’i Studies Volume 1. Oxford: George Ronald.