The Baha'i community in Mumbai will be celebrating their most Holy festival - Ridvan. The 12 days festival will start from April 21 and end on May 2. The festival marks the official declaration of Baha'u'llah, the spiritual leader of the community, announcing that He was God's Messenger for the new age on April 21, 1863. As part of celebrations, Baha'is meet for spiritual gathering and try to connect with the teaching of their spiritual leader.
"We have a gathering at Bahai center on this day. Spiritual elements from Holy Scriptures are read out and talked about. We also have elections for local spiritual assembly," informed Mona Tahirih Makhija, a member of the community.
Baha'u'llah made this announcement in a garden on the banks of the Tigris River in Iraq and named the garden "Ridvan," meaning "paradise.". "He was in Iran from where he was exiled to Iraq in 1863. Every religion and their adherents were expecting their founder to come back. Baha'ullah declared that He is the promised one in the garden near Tigris river. He renamed the garden after that. Since he stayed there for 12 days, the festival is also celebrated for 12 days," said Mangesh Teli, another member of the community. The Ridvan period was also a time when Baha'u'llah proclaimed the foundational spiritual principles that lie at the heart of his teachings.
Community members said that celebrations differ as per congregations and the way the local community celebrates. "Reading from Holy scripture and getting deeper into his teaching is common. The other thing is elections of our nine-member bodies that look after the affairs of the community. This body is selected during this period through a secret ballot. Only those people who are totally committed to his teaching become members. Those who get the majority votes are allowed to become members. Similarly, establishment of institutions related to the faith is done during this period," said Teli.
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