Last year on Enable Me To Grow we compiled some ideas about bringing the Ridvan Festival to life in your home. Check out that post here, where you can see homemade tents to set the scene for storytelling, a flower board to count down the days Ridvan, a garden made of felt, and more.
This year we will share some ideas for adding some child-friendly elements into your community’s Holy Day program. Or your family may even like to host a Ridvan party for your children’s friends! I had the pleasure of hosting our sector’s Holy Day program last year and will share the details from our event in this post.
Please note that you can click on most of the photographs to see them close up.
Preparing the Decorations
All the decorations for this program were done with the children as part of our family’s daily Ridvan activity, such as:
- Pasting garden pictures from a magazine for a collage (used to make a “Welcome to the Ridvan Garden” sign)
- Finger painting and cutting flowers out of the paper (used to decorate the door)
- Painting roses on the large box (used for a center piece in the tent where we held devotions)
- Making the paper roses (stuck into the box mentioned above)
- Making a tent and having a tea party inside
- Learning a song about Ridvan
Preparing ahead of time meant basically only the food had to be completed on the day which made it more practical and enjoyable.
Setting Up a Special Entrance
The entrance to the program location gave the children the opportunity to hear the story of Ridvan before they sat for the formal program. This meant the program didn’t have to be so long and that parents could also explain the story to their own children in a way they could understand.
Three posters with a brief Ridvan story were pasted up so people could read them as they entered the house. The text was taken from various sources and put together in a child-friendly format. The posters read:
[quote]Baha’u’llah and His Family were being sent away from Baghdad. People all over the city loved Baha’u’llah very much so they were very, very sad He was going away. They cried and begged Him not to go. So before He left, Baha’u’llah wanted to say goodbye to them. But His house was not big enough to accommodate everyone![/quote]
[quote]Baha’u’llah decided to go to a garden named Ridvan (which means Paradise). Baha’u’llah and His friends camped in the garden for 12 days. A tent was set up and every morning the gardeners would pick roses to place inside. There were so many roses piled in the middle that friends sitting on one side of the tent, couldn’t see the people sitting on the other side![/quote]
[quote]It was here in the Garden of Ridvan that Baha’u’llah announced that He was a Messenger from God. So instead of being a sad time, these days became a very, very happy time! Baha’u’llah named these days the Festival of Ridvan and called it the Most Great Festival. This is a very special time for us to remember how Baha’u’llah is the Promised One of God.[/quote]
The last poster which was at the door read:
[quote]To get to the garden, everyone had to cross the Tigris River. Imagine that you are on your way to the Ridvan Garden. Cross the river and say hello to your friends. After a few minutes, you will be welcomed into our pretend “Garden of Ridvan.” We will go into a tent and choose cushions to sit quietly on. Then we will say prayers and sing songs, and afterwards have some more fun activities and snacks. Welcome![/quote]
A blue sheet on the ground served as the “river” for the children to cross as they came inside.
After everyone arrived, we invited the guests through some doors explaining to the children that it would be time for prayers when we entered the tent outside. The decorations on the doors included a sign saying “Welcome to the Ridvan Garden” with magazine pictures of gardens and large flowers which were cut out of paper which had been fingerpainted on.
River and bird sounds were playing in the background.
The tent was made with rope, clothes pins, and white sheets (which were purchased at a second hand shop for the occasion, but could have also been borrowed from a few participating families).
Some chairs and pillows were set up around the tent, all facing a large painted box which had tissue paper roses stuck inside. There are many ways to make tissue paper roses; see this video tutorial as an example.
The formal program was very short. We sang a prayer, read a quotation, and sang two songs.
The first song was “I have found Baha’u’llah.”
The second song was “Ridvan” (find out how to get a copy here) which was more upbeat and uses the words of Baha’u’llah as lyrics, so it was really nice to sing for a Holy Day program. We handed out rhythm sticks and scarves for the children to use as we sang.
After the devotional portion, families were split up into small groups to take turns going around to four activity stations. Each station had a poster which told some more of the Ridvan story (quoted from God Passes By) and described what to do for the particular activity station. We used a bell to tell people when it was time to move on to the next station.
1. The first station invited the children to build a garden with legos. We pre-selected green, white, brown, and flower blocks and had them in a basket on a little rug.
The poster read:
[quote]’Abdu’l-Bahá has described how, upon His arrival in the garden, Bahá’u’lláh declared His station to those of His companions who were present, and announced with great joy the inauguration of the Festival of Ridván. Sadness and grief vanished and the believers were filled with delight at this announcement. Although Bahá’u’lláh was being exiled to far-off lands and knew the sufferings and tribulations which were in store for Him and His followers, yet through this historic Declaration He changed all sorrow into blissful joy and spent the most delightful time of His ministry in the Garden of Ridván. Indeed, in one of His Tablets, He has referred to the first day of Ridván as the ‘Day of supreme felicity’, and has called on His followers to ‘rejoice, with exceeding gladness’ in remembrance of that day.
Here we have some supplies for you to build a beautiful garden. Work together to build a garden, and before the bell sounds we will take a picture of you with your beautiful garden. This picture will be mailed to you next week so you can remember the “Day of supreme felicity” throughout the year.”[/quote]
2. The second station invited the children to make roses with playdough. I used my favorite homemade playdough recipe colored with a bright pink food dye (I also quadrupled the recipe as I wanted to give some away to each child at the end of the program) and scented the playdough with rose oil. We had a few plastic knives and other playdough tools out, but just hands would have worked fine for this activity too.
The poster read:
[quote]This is a story from a Baha’i named Nabil:
“Every day ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá’u’lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city.”
Now we are going to make playdough roses. Smell the playdough and imagine this smell filling the entire garden! Make as many as you would like! There were so, so many roses in the garden of Ridvan![/quote]
3. The third station invited the children to make a nightingale puppet. I used the activity from the Core Curriculum materials for this and just altered it to use supplies we already had on hand.
The poster read:
[quote]This is a story from a Baha’i named Nabil:
“As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Baha’u’llah issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: ‘Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?’”
We are going to make nightingales to remind us of their beautiful singing in the garden of Ridvan, and also to remember how we must sing out our love for Baha’u’llah, just like the nightingales sang about their love for the roses. So very much do we love Baha’u’llah![/quote]
4. The fourth station was a treasure hunt. The children got to find a piece of chocolate to remind them of the sweetness of this period of Ridvan.
The poster read:
[quote]“Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá!”, Bah’u’llah has written, “as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful! Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All- Knowing, the All-Wise. Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon the Revealer of His undoubted proofs that His pen can move no longer.”
How incredibly special is this time of Ridvan! To celebrate, we have made a treasure hunt for you. There are several treasures hidden in the yard. Find one and bring it back to this station to enjoy before the next bell sounds. (If you find more than one, please leave it for another child.) Imagine how sweet it would have been to be in the Garden of Ridvan with Baha’u’llah, sweeter than any treat in the whole entire the world! Sing “Love for Baha’u’llah” if you have extra time.[/quote]
After visiting the stations, refreshments were made available. Everyone had been invited to bring a plate to share.
Rose colored cupcakes were one special treat. Some other ideas are: rose flavored cookies, a cake decorated with rose petals, cut up vegetables arranged in the shape of a flower or in a garden scene, a pink fruit punch, rose colored plates/cups/tablecloths/napkins.
The food does not have to be fancy, but arranging it in a bit of a special way can be a nice touch!
Take Home Gift
Before everyone left they were invited to choose a token from the basket to remember the day. Heart shaped crayons were made for the children and we made laminated bookmarks for the adults with pictures of roses cut out of an old calendar and a printed quotation from Baha’u’llah. Each family was also given a baggie with a portion of the rose-scented playdough to take home.
The poster read:
[quote]Baha’u’llah was so loving and generous that everyone was very sad He was leaving Baghdad. The people followed His horse for miles and miles, walking beside Him, not wanting to be separated from Him. Here is a special gift for you to take home to remember Baha’u’llah and this very special time which is the Festival of Ridvan. Happy Ridvan! We are so happy to have celebrated with you![/quote]
Thank you for “joining us” for our program! It was a lot of fun and hopefully the children learned a bit about what makes Ridvan so special. You can find even more details and photos on this post from Veritable Treasure.
What other ideas Ridvan Programs have you seen, used, or heard about? Please share in the comments below!