Ridvan is a 12-day festival in the Baha’i faith. In 2017 it begins at sunset on April 21st and ends at sunset on May 2nd. The festival commemorates the time during the middle of the 19th Century that the founder of the Baha’i faith, Baha’u’llah, left Baghdad and went to gardens now known as the Gardens of Ridvan in Baghdad's Rusafa District, on the banks of the Tigris river. During this time, Baha’u’llah publicly declared his role as a Manifestation of God. Baha’u’llah advocated oneness of all humanity and the essential unity of all religions. Born Mirza Husayn Ali in Tehran, Persia, in 1817, Baha’u’llah was known early in his adult life as “the father of the poor” for his work assisting the destitute and homeless.
The Baha’i culture encourages the mutual appreciation and acceptance of science and religion, equality of the sexes and the elimination of prejudice and racism.
On the first day of Ridvan, Baha’u’llah started his journey from Baghdad to Constantinople after being banned by the government of the city. On the ninth day he arrived at the gardens and joined his family. Visitors would come to the garden to be in the presence of Baha’u’llah and wish to bid him farewell. The twelfth day of Ridvan is the last day that Baha’u’llah stayed in the Garden of Ridvan and it was a day of loss and sadness for the ones who had to remain.
Gardens are an important part of the Baha’i faith. There are many Baha’i houses of worship around the world that welcome everyone no matter what an individual’s beliefs are. Each house has a unique and different style but they all share four basic requirements; a circular shape, nine sides, a dome and surrounds of nine gardens with pathways.
One of the Baha’i houses of worship is located in Sydney, Australia, in the hills and bushland above the northern beaches of Sydney. The Australian Baha'i Temple is meant to be a place of prayer and meditation for people of all beliefs.