Since the ancient times, the God has incarnated through a chain of divine Messengers, like - Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha and Muhammad.
Their teachings guided and educated the people for the progress of the society. Bahaullah, who is the latest of these Messengers, introduced a new spiritual and social teachings.
It is the teachings of unity and the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family and the oneness of religion. According to him, the earth is like one country and human are the citizens.
As per the sacred scriptures of the past, now is the time for humanity to live in unity. The Baha'i Faith has spread around the globe. The Baha'i religion originally grew out of the Babi faith.
It is founded more than a century and a half ago, ie in the midth of the 19th century, in Iran, by Mirza Hoseyn 'Ali Nuri, who is known as Baha' Ullah (Glory of God).
This religion emphasizes on the unity of all religions and humanity. As per the Baha'is faith, all the religious leaders of the world are the incarnations of God and messengers of God.
They appeared on the earth, for the welfare of the mankind. Baha' Ullah's principle was to establish a universal faith. Followers of the Baha'i Faith exist almost in every nation and live in more than one lakh localities.
The Baha'is are from ethnic group, culture, profession, and social or economic background. Baha'is believe in the oneness of humanity and oppose the racial, class and religious differances.
The Baha'i faith has no priesthood and does not observe ritual forms in its worship. The writings and spoken words of the Bab, Baha' Ullah and 'Abd ol-Baha form the sacred literature of the Baha'i faith.
Entry to the Baha'i community is open to anyone who has faith in Baha' Ullah and his teachings.
There are no initiation ceremonies, no sacraments, no clergy. However, every Baha'i has the following spiritual bindings.
1- Daily prayers.
2- Fast for 19 days a year-ie to remain without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.
3- Abstain totally from alcoholic drinks and any substances those affect the mind.
4- Matrimonial affairs should be finalised with the consent of the parents.
5- Attend the Nineteen Day Feast on the first day of each month of the Baha'i calendar.
The Nineteen Day Feast, of Bab organises the Baha' is for the prayer, the reading of scriptures, the deciding of community activities and for rejoicing.
The feasts are designed to ensure universal participation in the affairs of the community and the cultivation of the spirit of brotherhood and fellowship. Baha'i worship places exist in many parts of the world.
In the temples recitation of the scriptures of all religions is conducted. The Baha'is use a calendar, in which the year is divided into 19 months of 19 days each, with the addition of 4 intercalary days (5 in leap years).
The year begins on the first day of spring, March 21, which is one of many holy days in the Baha'i calendar. The calendar is established by the Bab and confirmed by Baha' Ullah.
The Baha'i community is governed according to general principles proclaimed by Baha' Ullah and through institutions created by him.
The governing structure of the Baha'i community initiates locally with the election of a local spiritual assembly. Every year delegates to a national convention are elected by the Baha'is.
They furter elect a countrywide national spiritual assembly. Later on,all the national spiritual assemblies of various countries, organise an international convention and elect a supreme governing body.
It is called as the Universal House of Justice. The seat of the Universal House of Justice is in Haifa, Israel. This body applies the laws initiated by Baha' Ullah and legislates, on matters not covered in the sacred texts.
The counsellors are appointed by the Universal House of Justice for the propagation of the Baha'i faith.
The God must speak to us in a language which is known to us and this He does with the help of his Manifestations.The Manifestations of God speak to the people face to face and convey them the Message of God and after Their death.
Their message continues to reach people, through their recorded sayings and writings. By this language the Manifestation continues to hold converse with the faithful after His departure from the material world.
Bahaullah speaks much of this spiritual language, as follows-
We should speak in the language of heaven ! in the language of the spirit, for there is a language of the spirit and heart ! It is as different from our language as our own language is different from that of the animals.
They express themselves only by cries and sounds ! It is the language of the spirit which speaks to God ! When, in prayer, we are freed from all outward things and turn to God, then it is as if in our hearts we hear the voice of God.
Without words we speak, we communicate, we converse with God and hear the answer! All of us, when we attain to a truly spiritual condition, can hear the Voice of God !
Bahaullah says that the higher spiritual truths can be communicated only by means of such spiritual language. Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha have revealed innumerable prayers.
It is for the use of Their followers at various times and for various purposes. The greatness of conception and depth of spirituality revealed in these utterances must impress every thoughtful student.
But only by making their use a regular and important part of one's daily life can their significance be fully appreciated and their power for good realized. A few examples are provided here-
Ridvan - Baha'is Festival
The festival of Ridvan, is the Baha'is greatest festival, which is in the month of April and lasts for 12 days. This is celebrated for more than three Holy Days.
The first, ninth, and twelfth days are celebrated as the Holy Days. The Baha'i administrative year begins on the First Day of Ridvan.
It starts with the election of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies as prescribed by 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. The elections those renew the administrative order become part of the festival.
Baha'is around the world celebrate the Baha'u'llah's public declaration of His mission, an event which took place on the eve of His departure from Baghdad for Constantinople.
In the year 1844, the Bab had arisen to announce the arrival of a great Messenger from God, the Promised One of all religions.
The Bab called the people of Persia to purify themselves in preparation for the arrival of "He whom God shall make manifest".
Delegates Celebrate Ridvan
Baha'u'llah, one of the Bab's foremost followers, was jailed in 1853 on false charges. In the jail,He received the message from the God in, that He was to be that Promised One.
After few months, when He was released from the jail, He did not tell anyone of the fact. However, for ten years, during His exile in Baghdad.
He kept silent on this matter. His character, wisdom and high spiritual insight influenced the people around him. The worried authorities moved Him to another place due to His growing influence.
Baghdad was an important crossroads at that time and it was feared that the new religion might be spread far and wide if He was continued to stay there. Hence Baha'u'llah and His party was soon moved to Constantinople.
On the eve of His departure,Baha'u'llah took up shelter in a garden,which was called by the Baha'is as the Garden of Ridvan.
He spent 12 days there in preparation for the long journey ahead. Guests of all types rushed into the garden, paying respects to the great, divine Personality who ahd influenced all of them.
Soon, during the coarse of time,Baha'u'llah declared to the gathered Babis that He was the Promised One spoken of by the Bab.
"Ridvan" means "Paradise", from which we can gather something of what the atmosphere must have felt like during that 12-day period stay.