Baha'is around the world are celebrating the Festival of Ridvan, which marks the anniversary of Baha'u'llah's declaration in 1863 that He was a new messenger of God.

Ridvan is a twelve-day festival in the Baha’i Faith, commemorating the commencement of Baha’u’llah’s Prophethood. It begins at sunset on April 20 and continues until sunset, May 2. First, Ninth, and Twelfth days designated as Holy Days on which work and school should be suspended. This event, which took place thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz, in April 1863, signalized the commencement of the period during which Baha’u’llah declared His Mission to His companions.

"Ridvan" means paradise, and is named for the Garden of Ridvan outside Baghdad, where Baha’u’llah stayed for twelve days after the Ottoman Empire exiled Him from the city and before commencing His journey to Constantinople.

Ridvan is the most holy Baha’i festival, and is also referred to as the "Most Great Festival" and the "King of Festivals". In a Tablet, Baha’u’llah refers to His Declaration as "the Day of supreme felicity" and He 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 Bab’s Writings introduced the concept of "He whom God shall make manifest", a Messianic Figure whose coming, according to Baha’is, was announced in the Scriptures of all of the world’s great religions.

 (Compiled by T. Jaya Raju)