This post is part of the series Walking Through the Garden of Ridván.
“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”
Yesterday we were able to celebrate the beginning of the festival of Ridván with our local Bahá’í community. As described in this beautiful introductory post from Creative World of Varya, Ridván commemorates the time when Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, made the bold claim that He was the Messenger of God for today, come to usher in an age of peace and prosperity for all people.
When Bahá’u’lláh made this announcement in 1863 in the beautiful Ridván Garden, He was not just speaking to His companions, or to the inhabitants of nearby Baghdad, or even to the people of Persia, His native land. He was announcing to all the peoples of the world that they were one human family, that true peace was not only possible but inevitable, and that equality and justice could be the guiding principles of a global civilization based on both spiritual and material development.
Today, there are followers of Bahá’u’lláh all over the world, and though they come from many different cultures, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds, they are all united in their love for Bahá’u’lláh and for His teachings of world unity and peace.
And so as Bahá’ís all over the world commemorate the start of the Ridván Festival, I thought it would be fun to get a flavor of how communities in different parts of the globe celebrate this festival.
For myself, growing up in different parts of the US (North Carolina and New Jersey), I have fond memories of putting on plays with other children or having picnics in the park. Here are some glimpses of how other families and communities celebrate this beautiful time:
Sarih: “Over the years we have done a variety of Ridván related activities with the kids, garden parties, treasure hunts, constructing Ridván prayer tents, picnics in rose gardens, stories, decorating with flowers etc.”
Honey of Honey’s Quilling (Malaysia): “Here we have the usual gathering with devotionals and an activity developed by the task force.”
Talieh (Northern Virginia/Alexandria): “I am planning something special for the children’s class I teach. Last year we built a tent in the middle of the room and marked the outline of an island around it. Inside the tent were some cushions, a bright table cloth on the floor serving as a carpet, and in the middle lots of roses and a picture of the Garden of Ridván in Haifa. The children said their prayers in a different part of the room and after a brief introduction to Ridván, were invited to cross the river and enter the garden. Once in the tent, the children listened to the story about Ridván, and then we drank very light tea together. It was simple, but hopefully special way to celebrate. I’d like to do something similar this year, with a few additions such as a song about Ridván and so on.
Jubilee (Austin, Texas): “We always have a big party on the first day with bouncy house, snow cones, music etc. outside of the Bahá’í center. The newly elected LSA [Local Spiritual Assembly] members serve BBQ. It is the kid’s favorite holiday, every time we have a holy day they ask if it is the ‘one with the bouncy house’.”
Felicia of Guilt to Great (New Mexico): “Our children have been learning about the garden of Ridván–one week they made flowers, the next boats, and the next nightingales. It is a tangible approach to grasping the different elements that made the garden special.”
Azarnoush of A toddler, his mum and their recipes (from Bolivia): “I remember once mum was in charge of the decorations for the celebration and she made a huge (seemed huge anyway) colorful tent made of long plastic strands over the garden at the Bahá’í Centre and then made lots and lots of paper flowers and put them on the grass everywhere. It was fantastic and super festive.”
Pamela of Gems of Oneness (currently in Ghana): “We have performed a skit every year, wherever we’ve lived, where the kids make some kind of tent with a candle inside representing the Light of Bahá’u’lláh. they have memorized the simple version of the story, each taking a part and reciting a quote as well to depict the story. they try to make the 4 rows with paper flowers lined up to the tent. they offer flowers to the inside of the tent, trying to pile them high enough to show how the people couldn’t see each other. they have served tea and taken a rose (sometimes real ones) from the inside of the tent to give to people in the audience. sometimes it’s very humble and shared only with a few people; other times it’s been performed in front of 100’s. each year the version of the story changes depending on circumstances and resources. we sing as many joyful songs about Bahá’u’lláh as possible, too!”
How do you celebrate special days with your little ones?
This post is part of the series Walking Through the Garden of Ridván. Each day during the Ridván festival (April 21 – May 2), a different blogger will share the story of the festival and a craft or activity to help bring it to life for little ones. For a full schedule, visit the series main page.