“Dignified” is not a word I typically associated with toddlers. Yet it is the word I keep coming back to as I prepare to celebrate the festival of Ridvan with my little Monkey.
The 12 days of Ridvan, which begin on April 21, are the holiest of Baha’i holidays, and I want to make them special for my little boy, who is just beginning to develop an awareness of the rhythm of the seasons and the joy of holidays.
So I have decided to focus on recreating elements of the Ridvan Garden where Baha’u'llah visited before his exile from Baghdad: the tent where He stayed, the flowers brought to him every morning by the gardeners, and – especially – the sense of wonder and awe about the significance of His stay.
This is by no means an original idea. I first heard of it years ago, when a dear friend set up a tent in her daughter’s room during Ridvan, based on a lesson in Brilliant Star magazine.
We don’t have a suitable tent, so I’m planning on draping a sheet over our living room table. Inside, I’m going to try to create a dignified atmosphere by laying out a beautiful, handwoven table runner given to me while I was in Belize years ago. On it will go a basket full of tissue paper flowers.
The flowers are important to me because one of my favorite stories as a child was that during Baha’u'llah’s stay in the Ridvan Garden, the gardeners became so enamored of Him that they used to bring armfuls of flowers for His tent, so many that when His guests sat down to have tea, they couldn’t see each other over the mound of flowers!
To celebrate this story, I’m going to make some flowers out of tissue paper & pipe cleaners, based on this tutorial. That way, my little Monkey and I can drink our tea inside the tent, over our own (much smaller!) mound of flowers.
To add to the effect of being in a garden, we also still have hanging around the living room these beautiful flower chains my sister made out of craft foam. Because she used something like fishing wire to string them together, they have the effect of seem to float in the air – The look on my little Monkey’s face the first morning he saw them was priceless!
We originally hung them up for Ayyam-i-Ha, but since they are so perfect for Ridvan as well, we will keep them up through the end of the festival.
What else do we have planned for Ridvan this year? I am really looking forward to going strawberry picking with our community on a small, organic farm, an activity I know my little boy will also love.
In addition, a friend and I are hosting the celebration of the final (twelfth) day of Ridvan, which commemorates when Baha’u'llah left the Ridvan Garden. Our craft for kids will be focused on nightingales. There were many nightingales in the Ridvan Garden, and Baha’u'llah used these nocturnal birds as a beautiful metaphor for lovers of God who cannot sleep because they are singing God’s praises. Based on this idea, we are going to help the kids make and decorate nightingale puppets out of cardstock and ribbons, as shown in this amazing Core Curriculum Lesson Planning Guide (bird craft begins on page 24).
So that’s the plan, friends! How will it all turn out?? Stay tuned!
For more ideas on celebrating Ridvan with your little ones, check out this wonderfully creative collection.