Baha’i Faith Community Celebrates Ridvan in Montgomery County

It’s the season of prayer, music and celebration for the local Baha’i faith community as they honor the holiest days of their year during the Festival of Ridvan.

Members of the Baha'i faith community gather in Gaithersburg for Ridvan. Photo by Manousheed Bagha.

Members of the Baha’i faith community gather in Gaithersburg for Ridvan. Photo by Manousheed Bagha.

Ridvan, which means paradise in both Arabic and Persian, is a period of 12 days that mark the holiest days of the Baha’i year. On the first, ninth and 12th days, people of the Baha’i faith often stay home from work and school to observe the holiday. Those days are April 21, April 29 and May 2 of this year.

“This is a festive period as well as being a holy period,” said Anthony Vance, Director of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs.

The festival honors the commencement of Baha’u’llah’s prophethood, the founder of the Baha’i faith.

“For the individual, Baha’u’llah states the purpose of life is ‘to know and to worship, love and obey God’ and to acquire virtues by being of service to one’s fellow human beings,” Vance said. “The purpose of life collectively is to ‘carry forward an ever advancing civilization,’ the most critical aspect of which is, in this age, the promotion of the oneness of the human race.”

In Maryland, celebrations of Ridvan are organized by the Local Spiritual Assemblies, nine member local bodies elected annually by the Baha’i’s to govern the religious affairs of each local Baha’i community in various localities throughout the State.

“These gatherings are devotional in nature and include prayers, selections form the sacred writings from the Baha’i Faith, and from other religions, as well as music and fellowship,” Vance said.

A group of local Baha’is from Africa, the Middle East and the United States gathered in Germantown on April 21 to celebrate the Festival of Ridvan. This is one of about a dozen celebrations taking place in Baha’i communities around Montgomery County.

“The program for the event was selected by the youth of the community,” said Manousheed Bagha-van de Fliert, one of the organizers of Baha’i events in the County. “There are approximately 700 Baha’is in Montgomery County, from diverse backgrounds. All Bahá’í Holy Days are open to people of all faith traditions, races and nationalities.”

Find more information about the Baha’i community in Montgomery County through their website here.

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Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).

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