Ridvan is a significant Baha’i observance that centers on the revelations of its founding prophet. Celebrated between April 21 and May 2 (The holiday always begins on the thirteenth day of the Baha’i month of Jalal.) it is considered to be the most important Baha’i festival. The first (April 21), ninth (April 29) and twelfth (May 2) days of Ridvan are major Baha’i holy days on which work is to be suspended.
Ridvan is a significant religious holiday that may impact business and mobility locally in Baha’i communities in countries such as Iran or in other countries with significant Baha’i populations (such as some of the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union).
Ridvan is considered the holiest Baha’i festival. It lasts for 12 days and commemorates the prophet Baha’u’llah’s declaration of his mission and his departure from Baghdad in 1863. Along with Naw Ruz and the Anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab, it is among the most important Baha’i holidays.
The festival customarily involves social gatherings and devotional services, especially on the three holy days – the first, ninth and twelfth days (April 21 and 29, and May 2). Baha’i elections are usually held during Ridvan.
The name Ridvan means “good pleasure” (or “paradise”) in Arabic, and is the name given to the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where the Baha’i prophet Baha’u’llah remained from April 21 to May 2, 1863.
Baha’u’llah proclaimed the festival of Ridvan on the afternoon that he entered the garden, where he made three announcements: first, his followers were forbidden to fight in order to advance or defend their faith (religious war, called jihad, had been permitted in Islam and in some instances under the law of the Bab); second, there would not be another prophet for another 1,000 years; and third, all the names of God were inherent in all things at that moment.
Baha’u’llah’s arrival in Ridvan and his announcement of the Ridvan festival mark the moment when the essence of the Baha’i faith was expressed.