In 1863, Bahá’u’lláh first announced His Divine Mission as a Messenger of God during the 12 days He called the days of Paradise (i.e. “Ridván” which is pronounced rezz-von). This event took place in a rose-filled garden full of singing birds, where family and friends stayed in large tents. It was a brief interlude in the 40 years of the persecution and imprisonment of Bahá’u’lláh. Each year Bahá’ís commemorate these joyous, significant days, the “Festival of God,” the beginning of the Faith.
About this Revelation, Bahá’u’lláh wrote: “This is the Voice of God, if ye do but hearken. This is the Day Spring of the Revelation of God, did ye but know it. This is the Dawning-Place of the Cause of God, were ye to recognize it.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 33)
“As to the significance of that Declaration let Bahá’u’lláh Himself reveal to us its import…. “The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching…. Take heed lest anything deter Thee from extolling the greatness of this Day — the Day whereon the Finger of Majesty and Power hath opened the seal of the Wine of Reunion, and called all who are in the heavens and all who are on earth…. He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is who is the One Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future.” And yet again: “Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridván and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the Garden of Delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise…” Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 156. A longer article on Ridván may be read here.
At Ridván, Bahá’ís annually elect members of local and national administrative bodies, called Spiritual Assemblies. Bahá’u’lláh taught that in an age of universal education, there was no longer a need for a special class of clergy. Instead, he provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels. All Bahá’í elections occur through secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning. From our 2011 post.