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Montreal, April 21, 2017 – The Bahá’í Community has celebrated the first of the twelve days of Ridván Festival at the Bahá’í Centre with music and various performances by the artists of the Community. Many friends of the Faith joined in this celebration with joy and happiness.
 
This is the day when Bahá'u'lláh left for Constantinople from Baghdád. He decided to move to the Najib Pasha garden across the Tigris river and entered the garden on April 22, 1863 accompanied by his sons `Abdu'l-Bahá, and some others, and stayed there for eleven days.
 
After his arrival in the garden, Bahá'u'lláh announced his mission and station for the first time to a small group of family and friends. The exact nature and details of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration are unknown. For the next eleven days Bahá'u'lláh received visitors including the governor of Baghdad. Bahá'u'lláh's family was not able to join Him until April 30, the ninth day, since the river had risen and made travel to the garden difficult. On the twelfth day of their stay, Bahá'u'lláh and his family left the garden and started on their journey to Constantinople.
 
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, written during 1873, Bahá'u'lláh ordains Ridván as one of two "Most Great Festivals", along with the Declaration of the Báb. He then specified the first, ninth, and twelfth days to be holy days; these days mark the days of Bahá'u'lláh's arrival, the arrival of his family and their departure from the Ridván garden, respectively.
 
The Festival of Ridván is observed according to the Bahá'í calendar, and begins on the thirty-second day of the Bahá'í year, which falls on April 20 or 21. The festival properly starts at two hours before sunset on that day, which symbolises the time that Bahá'u'lláh entered the garden. On the first, ninth, and twelfth days, which are Bahá'í Holy Days, work is prohibited. Currently, the three holy days are usually observed with a community gathering where prayers are shared, followed with a celebration.
 
The time that Bahá'u'lláh spent at the Garden of Ridván in April 1863, and the associated festival and celebration, has a very large significance for Bahá'ís. Bahá'u'lláh calls it one of two "Most Great Festivals" and describes the first day as "the Day of supreme felicity" and he then describes the "Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of his Name, the All-Merciful".
 
The festival is significant because of Bahá'u'lláh's private declaration to a few followers that he was "Him Whom God shall make manifest" and a Manifestation of God, and thus it forms the beginning point of the Bahá'í Faith, as distinct from the Babi religion. Furthermore, during Bahá'u'lláh's first day in the garden, he made three further announcements: abrogating religious war, which was permitted under certain conditions in Islam and the Bábí faith; that there would not be another Manifestation of God for another 1,000 years; and that all the names of God were fully manifest in all things. These three principles are "affirmed, expounded, and institutionalized" in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Aqdas, which was completed in 1873.
 
The Ridván period is also the time when Bahá'í annual elections for the local and national Spiritual Assemblies take place every year throughout the world.

 

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