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May 3, 2018

Baha'is Mark the Ridvan Festival

Baha'is Mark the Ridvan FestivalBaha'is across the City of Ottawa marked the Festival of Ridván during the period April 21 to May 2 this year. The Ridván Festival has particular significance for the Baha'i community as it is the time when Bahá’u’lláh, prophet-founder of the Faith, publicly declared His Mission to a few of his followers in the Garden of Najíbiyyih, on the banks of the Tigris river in Baghdad.  Baha'u'llah later named it the Garden of Ridván, meaning “Paradise”.
Across the ages, the coming of each Messenger of God leads to renewal and revitalization of society and civilizations. So it is that Baha'is believe that the declaration of Baha'u'llah as a Messenger of God released forces that are bringing about the spiritual transformation of humanity and the world that continues to this day and for a thousand years to come.
In one of His Tablets launching the Festival of Ridván, Bahá’u’lláh refers to the appellation "the Blissful" – a word that means the highest level of joy, of rapture and of perfect happiness. This title also characterizes the bliss with which the Ottawa Baha'i community celebrated the Ridván Festival with a diversity of celebrations across Canada's capital.
The 1st, 9th and 12th Days of the Ridván Festival period are marked as special days in which Baha'is suspend work and school - a time of celebration, reflection and service. Special commemorations were held in more than 10 locations across the city on the 1st Day of Ridvan - April 21.
Baha'is Mark the Ridvan FestivalOn the 9th Day of Ridván, around 300 attendees enjoyed a community-wide celebration held at 2pm on April 29th at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans. On the same day, a senior's retirement residence in Barrhaven hosted a beautiful program to mark Ridvan. On May 2nd, the 12th and final day of the festival was celebrated with almost 20 small scale and intimate gatherings in homes and neighbourhoods across the city.
The Ridván period is also an important time in the renewal of Baha'i institutions around the world - a time when sacred elections are typically held to elect local and national governing councils for the Baha'i community. At the International level, the elections are held every 5 years. During Ridvan this year, an International Convention convened at the Baha'i World Centre brought together over 1300 delegates representing over 160 countries to elect the Universal House of Justice.

Baha'is Mark the Ridvan FestivalMany other community activities and events were held around the Ridván Festival . In the Glebe, a group of women, who refer to themselves as "the Gang of Five", hosted an evening which showcased "The Baha’is", a documentary on the Baha'i Faith that originally aired on Vision TV on May 1. More recently, Baha'is in the East end, organized a film screening of "the Light to the World" at the Cinestarz cinema in Orléans - on Friday evening May 11.
Finally, the local community was heartened to receive heartfelt wishes sent by the Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, to the Ontario Baha’i community on the occasion of Ridvan stating,
"Our province is proud to be home to a flourishing Baha’i community and a faith whose central beliefs resonate with the values we cherish as Ontarians."

The Premier's wishes reflect the effort of many individuals, working hand-in-hand to build vibrant communities which are dynamic, welcoming, spiritually nurturing and which foster development of capacity for service. Happy Ridván to all!

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