In 1863, Bahá’u’lláh (Glory of God) first announced His Divine Mission as a Messenger of God during the 12 days He called the days of Paradise (i.e. “Ridván”). This event took place in a rose-filled garden full of singing birds, where family and friends stayed in large tents across the river Tigris.
It was a brief interlude in the 40 years of the persecution, exile 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.”
Because Baha’u’llah spoke out against all forms of tyranny and oppression, the Ridvan period is also designated as the time when Baha’is around the world elect the institutions that will serve them during the coming year. Baha’is have no clergy, so Baha’i communities are administered by elected bodies of nine people called assemblies. Elections for Baha’i local spiritual assemblies (in every locality where Baha’is reside) and national spiritual assemblies (in every country) are held each year during the twelve days of Ridvan. All Bahá’í elections occur through secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning. Every five years, the international body, the universal house of justice is elected during this same period. Although these assembles interact with their communities regularly to present financial and activity/progress reports, consult on plans, air their grievances, etc they abide by their stipulated mandate before God as “and are not responsible only to their electors”.
In gathering to say prayers and silently cast their ballots for the institutions that will help inspire and guide them through the year, Baha’is symbolically renew their covenant with Baha’u’llah, affirm the Baha’i teachings on freedom of thought, liberty of conscience and right of speech, and redeem that momentous declaration in the Garden of Ridvan, affirming the structure of a living world community established in Baha’u’llah’s name.
Regarding these assemblies it is written: “The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly freed from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden.
“The second condition: they must when coming together turn their faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm of Glory. They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one’s views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden. The honoured members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another, nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth, and should differences of opinion arise a majority of voices must prevail, and all must obey and submit to the majority. It is again not permitted that any one of the honoured members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced. In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness… If this be so regarded, that assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation…
“Discussions must all be confined to spiritual matters that pertain to the training of souls, the instruction of children, the relief of the poor, the help of the feeble throughout all classes in the world, kindness to all peoples, the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Holy Word. Should they endeavour to fulfil these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that assembly shall become the centre of the Divine blessings, the hosts of Divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of Spirit. “
In Seychelles, this April 2018, eight members of the Seychelles National Spiritual Assembly will take part in the international convention held in Israel, as delegates, to elect the new Universal House of Justice comprising nine members elected from amongst all the Baha’is of the world. On the 20th night, celebrations were held in all 12 localities on Mahe and inner islands, their local institution elected while on April 21 at 3pm, a national commemoration was held on the exact time that Baha’u’llah proclaims publicly His Mission to a small group of believers – the first trumpet sound!
Source : Seychelles NATION