Bahá’ís Celebrate the Festival of Ridvan
This past month, the Ottawa
Bahá’í community celebrated their most important festival of the year,
the Twelve Days of Ridvan (pronounced Riz-wan).
Each spring, between
April 21st and May 2nd, Bahá’ís around the world commemorate the period
of twelve days that Bahá’u’llah passed in a garden in Baghdad before he
and his family were sent into exile.
Ottawa’s celebration of the first day of Ridvan, this past April 21st,
featured a program of music, prayers, food and social time. It also
included a dramatic story-telling of the events surrounding
Bahá’u’llah’s time in the Ridvan Garden.
“I really enjoyed the artistic portion of the program,” said Jane
LeFeuvre, one of the MCs for the event. “Especially since it featured
young musicians from our community. And although there were hundreds of
us there it felt like an intimate gathering of friends.”
Community members had also
gathered the previous evening to elect the
Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Ottawa. Unlike many other
religions, Bahá’ís do not have clergy and elect assemblies to
administer local affairs. Each Bahá’í can vote for nine individuals in
the community to serve a one year term on the Assembly.
Despite the fact that there are about a thousand Bahá’ís in Ottawa, the
election was held without a list of candidates, without nominations and
with no campaigning. It is a spiritual duty of each voter to get to
know their fellow community members throughout the year. At election
time, the ballot asks voters to write in the names of nine adult
Bahá’ís who they believe possess the qualities to serve on the Assembly.
Voting results were announced publicly the next day at the annual
meeting that preceded the celebration described above. Celebrations of
other days during the Ridvan Festival took place in various
neighbourhoods across the city until May 2nd.