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Montreal, April 20, 2021 – Montreal Bahá’í Community as well as the Bahá’ís around the world celebrate three days of the twelve days that Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Faith, declared His Mission in a garden in suburb of Baghdád in Iraq on April 21, 1863.

The garden belonged to Najib Pasha, the governor of Baghdád at the time and was left at Bahá’u’lláh’s disposal to stay there before leaving the city on His route to exile to Constantinople, the capital city of Ottoman Empire.

Those twelve days are known among the Bahá’ís as “Riḍván” in Arabic which can be translated as “Paradise”.   

“The arrival of Bahá'u'lláh in the Najibiyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridvan, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá'í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymaniyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.”

“"Many a night," writes Nabil, depicting the tumult that had seized the hearts of Bahá'u'lláh's companions, in the days prior to the declaration of His mission, "would Mirza Aqa Jan gather them together in his room, close the door, light numerous camphorated candles, and chant aloud to them the newly revealed odes and Tablets in his possession. Wholly oblivious of this contingent world, completely immersed in the realms of the spirit, forgetful of the necessity for food, sleep or drink, they would suddenly discover that night had become day, and that the sun was approaching its zenith."

Of the exact circumstances attending that epoch-making Declaration we, alas, are but scantily informed. The words Bahá'u'lláh actually uttered on that occasion, the manner of His Declaration, the reaction it produced, its impact on Mirza Yahya, the identity of those who were privileged to hear Him, are shrouded in an obscurity which future historians will find it difficult to penetrate. The fragmentary description left to posterity by His chronicler Nabil is one of the very few authentic records we possess of the memorable days He spent in that garden. "Every day," Nabil has related, "ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá'u'lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city." "One night," he continues, "the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: 'Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?' For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful, and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdad. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation."*

Bahá'u'lláh Himself acclaiming that historic occasion as the "Most Great Festival," the "King of Festivals," the "Festival of God".

The Local and National Bahá’í Institutions are elected once a year during this period. For the first time in Canadian history, the Bahá’í Community used an electronic voting system due to current sanitary restrictions.

*Excerpts from “God Posses By” written by Shoghi-Effenfi, the late Gardien of the Bahá’í Faith (1897-1957)

Photo : Garden of Najib Pasha presently part of Baghdád university.

 

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