than 500 Bahá'ís and their friends came together in Ottawa on a
beautiful Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 1st Day of Ridván on 21
April 2019. The Ridván Festival, which occurs over a 12-day period
starting in late April and ending in early May, marks the anniversary
of the time Bahá'u'lláh spent in a garden on the banks of the River
Tigris in Baghdad prior to His exile to Constantinople (present day
Istanbul). During this 12-day period, many of His admirers in the city
of Baghdad came to bid Him farewell. It was also during this period
that Bahá'u'lláh announced to some of the friends who came to visit
that He was a Messenger of God, bringing a new message for humanity – a
message of peace, hope and prosperity for human civilization.
called Ridván the "King of Festivals" and today Bahá'ís celebrate this
festival as the most joyous of all Bahá'í Holy Days. In cities, towns,
villages and neighbourhoods around the world, from Kinshasa to Manila,
Santiago to Sydney and from Los Angeles to Paris, Bahá'ís celebrate
these special days with gatherings open to all, including family,
friends, colleagues and neighbours. The Ridván period is also when
Bahá'í communities around the world elect their Local Spiritual
Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies – nine-member councils
that are responsible for guiding and coordinating the affairs of the
Bahá'í communities in their jurisdiction.
During the Ridván period, which occurred from April 21 to May 2 this
year, the 1st, 9th and 12th days were marked with celebrations. Many
Bahá'ís in Ottawa marked these days by taking the day off work and
children stayed home from school. In addition to the citywide
celebration held on April 21st, many additional celebrations were held
on April 29 and May 2 at over 25 different locations across the city.
The 1st Day of Ridván celebration featured attendees from Kanata,
Cumberland, Orléans, Barrhaven, downtown Ottawa, Manotick, Stitsville,
Beacon Hill, Ottawa South, the Glebe and many other parts of the city.
Attendees gathered at the St. Elias Banquet Hall in Ottawa for the
program, which started at 3:30pm. The program started with prayers in
French and English and featured pieces from the Bahá'í writings,
beautifully chanted and set to music by Bahá'í youth from the
community. A highlight of the evening was Persian vocal and
instrumental music that accompanied the rendition of a poem from
Bahá'u'lláh. The program also included a short talk on the journey of
the worldwide Bahá'í community from a tiny group of Bahá'ís in the
1800s to a worldwide community representing the full diversity of the
human race. The hearts of the participants were soaring as the program
closed with African drumming.
Reflecting on the event, Kit Nelson, a long-time member of the Ottawa
Bahá'í community, reflected that "it was wonderful to see so many
people from diverse backgrounds coming together to celebrate this
significant occasion in our Faith."