Riḍván Festival: The Most Great Festival, The King of Festivals
He is the Most Holy, the Most Glorious.
Praise be to Thee, O my God, that the dawn of Thy Riḍván Festival hath broken, and that therein one who had sought Thy presence hath attained his goal, O Thou our Lord, the Most Merciful! How numerous are Thy loved ones, O my God, who traversed the sands of Syria in their longing to gaze on Thy beauty but who were prevented from attaining the court of Thy transcendent oneness by reason of the misdeeds of Thy foes, who have disbelieved in Thee and gainsaid Thy sovereignty.
O Lord! Look upon the oppressors of Thy people with the eye of Thine avenging wrath. By Thy might! Their iniquity hath reached such heights as none can reckon save Thyself, Who knowest all things. Thy loved ones acquiesced to captivity and confinement in this prison, and yet their enemies were still not satisfied, so intense was their hatred for the Manifestation of Thy Cause. Blessed be the man of insight who seeth in all that hath befallen him in Thy path naught save that which shall exalt his station and magnify Thy Cause, O Thou the Lord of the worlds!
By Thy glory! Were all the peoples of the earth to join together to harm a single one of the people of Bahá, they would find themselves powerless, for all that they see as harming Thy chosen ones is as light unto them and as fire unto Thine enemies. Were it not for the confinement, in the Most Great Prison, of Him Who is the Exponent of Thy transcendent sovereignty, how would Thy Cause have been promulgated, Thy sovereignty manifested, Thy might proclaimed, and the truth of Thy signs established? Would that I Myself had borne all the tribulations of the world, out of love for Thee and for Thy creatures!
O Lord! Open Thou the eyes of Thy servants, that they may behold Thee at all times seated upon the throne of Thy grandeur and supreme over all who are in heaven and on earth. Potent art Thou to do what Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.
The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals
A reference to the Riḍván Festival
First day of Riḍván is a reference to the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh and His companions in the Najíbíyyih Garden outside the city of Baghdád, subsequently referred to by the Bahá’ís as the Garden of Riḍván. This event, which took place thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz, in April 1863, signalized the commencement of the period during which Bahá’u’lláh declared His Mission to His companions. In a Tablet, He refers to His Declaration as “the Day of supreme felicity” and He describes the Garden of Riḍván as “the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful.” Bahá’u’lláh spent twelve days in this Garden prior to departing for Istanbul, the place to which He had been banished.
The Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh is celebrated annually by the twelve-day Riḍván Festival, described by Shoghi Effendi as “the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals”. -The Kitáb-i-Aqdas
There are four great festivals in the Bahá’í year. The two designated by Bahá’u’lláh as “the two Most Great Festivals”are, first, the Festival of Riḍván, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Riḍván in Baghdád during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as “the King of Festivals” and, second, the Báb’s Declaration, which occurred in May 1844 in Shíráz. The first, ninth and twelfth days of the Festival of Riḍván are Holy Days, as is the day of the Declaration of the Báb.
The “two other Festivals”are the anniversaries of the births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. In the Muslim lunar calendar these fall on consecutive days, the birth of Bahá’u’lláh on the second day of the month of Muḥarram 1233 A.H. (12 November 1817), and the birth of the Báb on the first day of the same month 1235 A.H. (20 October 1819), respectively. They are thus referred to as the “Twin Birthdays” and Bahá’u’lláh states that these two days are accounted as one in the sight of God. -The Kitáb-i-Aqdas
The 2019 Ridvan message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the world is available on the official website for the Universal House of Justice.
Source of photos: Bahá'í Media Bank (copyright © Bahá'í International Community)