Montreal, April 21, 2019 – Bahá’ís from all over Montreal gathered at the Bahá’í Centre to take part in the election of their Spiritual Assembly. Likewise, in thousands of localities around the globe on that day, the first day of Riḍván, Bahá’ís vote for their local governing councils. Throughout the 12-day festival of Riḍván, national conventions are held in some 180 countries and territories, during which delegates gather to vote for their National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member council responsible for guiding, coordinating, and stimulating the activities of the Bahá’ís in its jurisdiction. Bahá’í elections are distinct for their lack of nomination and campaigning. The members elected this year are: Arash Saidi, Stan Phillips, Monique Richer-Gosselin, Aaron Daley, Janie Cardinal-Fernandes, Nima Naimi, Josée Cardinal, Baudouin Makasi Kutuka et Keyvan Mahjoor.

During the consultation period, many participants enthusiastically committed themselves to persevere in the direction the Bahá’í community is taking in their efforts to enhance the vitality of spiritual and social life in their neighbourhoods, foster participation by more and more people in activities that serve to counter passivity and lethargy of social forces that are, today, especially damaging to young people. Bahá’ís understand their work to be their contribution to the construction of a better world through the development of a culture of service in which universal participation of all members of the human family becomes the standard of justice and social progress.

The contributions to the deliberations at this Montreal Bahá’í Community gathering reflected several of the issues in the Baha’i plans, noting that today, more than ever, the world needs to counter the divisive social constructs that separate people, as well as overcome the passivity and lethargy that materialism and a superficial culture of entertainment has generated in society.

"Every contribution Bahá'ís make to the life of their society is aimed at fostering unity; every community-building endeavour is directed towards the same end."  - Riḍván 2017, Letter from the Universal House of Justice

Today, the festival of Riḍván is the most joyous of Bahá'í holy days. In villages, towns, and cities around the world, Baha'i communities celebrate these special days with gatherings open to all.

The Riḍván period was also a time when Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed the foundational spiritual principles that lie at the heart of His teachings—signaling the arrival of a new stage in the evolution of the life of humanity, characterized by peace and an end to violence.

This annual festival of 12 days (April 20 to May 2) marks the anniversary of the days Bahá'u'lláh spent in a garden on the banks of the River Tigris in Baghdad in 1863. During those days, many of His admirers in the city came to bid Him farewell. Bahá'u'lláh announced to the friends gathered with Him that He was God's Messenger for a new age, foretold in the world's scriptures. He called the garden they were gathered in "Riḍván" meaning "paradise."

Riḍván, together with the Declaration of the Báb, are designated by Bahá'u'lláh as “the two Most Great Festivals” and are attributed according significance in the Bahá'í calendar and celebrated as such in the Bahá'í world. The 1st, 9th and 12th days of Riḍván are considered Holy Days, on which work should be suspended and the festival of Riḍván is celebrated every year from the 13th of the month of Jalál to the 5th of the month of Jamál according to the Bahá'í calendar. 

* Photo : Garden of Riḍván, archives of « la bibliothèque nationale », Paris


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