The first day of Ridvan falling on 21st April, is a very special historic day for the Baha�is . �The Day of Supreme Felicity� as described by Bahaullah for the first day of Ridvan, marks the beginning of the 12-day festival of Ridvan. Ridvan is celebrated to commemorate the days of Bahaullah in the Garden of Ridvan after his exile from Baghdad. This is where he declared to some of the people gathered there that he was the messenger of God.
Though there is no particular ritual, most Bahai bodies hold elections for their governing bodies on the first day of Ridvan. This Holy Day is declared a holiday and the Bahai �s are not expected to work on this day.
History of Ridvan
On 22nd April, 1863 Bahaullah left his house and moved to the Garden of Ridvan after he was exiled from Baghdad to Istabul. On the afternoon on which he entered the Garden he declared the Festival of Ridvan, which continued for 12 days including the days of his arrival (the first day), the arrival of his family (the ninth day) and his departure (the twelfth day). It was during his stay in the Garden of Ridvan he declared his mission to humanity and that he is the Promised one. After nearly 10 years later, The Kitab-I-Aqdas declared Ridvan as one of the �Most Great Festivals�. Since then this festival is celebrated every year by all the followers of Bahai Faith all around the World.
According to the Bahai�s Calendar, the Festival is to begin on the 32nd day of the Bahai year, which usually falls on April 21. The festival starts two hours before the sunset, when Bahaullah entered the Garden of Ridvan.
All the three days, the first, the ninth and the twelfth day Bahai�s do not work. People observe prayers, meetings and the celebrations include feasting, dining, giving gifts to friends and alms to the needy.
The Ridvan Garden
Ridvan means Paradise. Bahaullah renamed the Garden Najibiyyih, situated across the Tigris River as the Garden of Ridvan on his arrival there after his exile. Bahaullah compares his move from the Most Great House (his house in Baghdad) to the Garden of Ridvan, to Muhammad�s travel from Mecca to Medina.
Bahaullah�s Three Announcements
After his arrival in the Garden, Bahaullah claimed his prophet hood to his son �Abdu�l-Baha and four others. Apart from this, he made three announcements. The first announcement was abrogating religious war by the followers of Bahai faith, which was permitted in Islam and under certain conditions by the B�b. The second was that there would not be another Manifestation of God for another 1000 years; the third was that all the names of God were fully manifest in all things.
The First day of Ridvan is thus not only the �King of Festivals� as referred by the Bahai�s, it could also be said to have marked the beginning of the Bahai Faith.