We used our Ridvan board - reading a quotation and doing a Ridvan related activity each day (please note, as most things go with young children, we only read the readings for about half the time, and we started forgetting to add leaves halfway through and would have to catch up every few days... but at least we did do something Ridvan related each day hehe).
We did some fingerpainting for which we used to cut out roses to decorate the door.
We made a Happy Ridvan banner.
We painted a big box to represent the big pile of roses in the middle of Baha'u'llah's tent.
We also made tissue paper roses, made a tent, made a "Welcome to the Garden of Ridvan" sign, had morning tea and stories in the tent, watched the "Garden of Ridvan" video, among some others.
As we had offered to host the 12th Day of Ridvan celebration, I chose activities that would help us prepare for this. So by the 12th day, I really just had to work on the program and food, since we had made most of the decorations beforehand.
(Below are the cupcakes I tried to make like roses but didn't quite have the right icing tool... oh well, they were still good!)
Since our current community/sector is quite small, and we were hosting on a weekday morning, I invited some other Baha'i families with small children who lived nearby, and catered the program to small children. I wanted it to be something they could participate in and hopefully help them remember some of the main parts of what Ridvan is.
I thought it would be nice for the children to hear the story of Ridvan before they sat for the formal program so the program didn't have to be so long and so parents could explain it to them in a way their own kids could understand, so I put up three posters with a brief Ridvan story as people entered our house. They read:
"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!
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!
The last poster which was at the door read:
"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!"
I put out a blue sheet as the "river" for the kids to cross as they came inside.
We played in the lounge waiting for everyone to arrive, and then invited everyone through the doors to enter the tent outside. We played river and bird sounds in the background.
Zafar had just tied up lines and we used clothes pins to make the tent. (We went out a few days earlier to second hand shops to get some extra white sheets.) Then we set out pillows for everyone to sit on, and had our big box with tissue paper roses in the middle.
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" (which you can read about here) which was more upbeat, so we handed out rhythm sticks and scarves for the kids to use. This song uses the words of Baha'u'llah as lyrics, so it really is a nice song to sing for Ridvan with kids.
Then we split the kids up into small groups to go around to four stations. I originally planned for these to be about five minutes each, and I would ring a bell to get everyone to move to the next station. However in the end we just moved families around when they were ready to go to the next, as some stations took more or less time than others.
The first was to build a garden with legos. The poster read:
"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."
The second was making roses with playdough. I used my favorite recipe (which I quadrupled as I wanted to give some away to each child at the end of the program) and scented the playdough with rose oil.
The poster read:
"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!"
The next station was making a nightingale. I used the activity from the Core Curriculum materials for this and just altered it to use supplies we already had.
The poster read:
"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!"
Here were some of the finished birds.
The next station was a treasure hunt (for a piece of chocolate). The poster read:
"“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."
After the kids had been around to most or all of the stations, we had food.
I had several comments about the Pinneapple salsa so here's the recipe (amounts don't really matter but I'm just listing what I used):
- Two large chunks of fresh pinneapple
- One tomato
- Half a red capsicum
- Quarter of a red onion
- Few tablespoons of fresh coriander
- Few teaspoons of olive oil
- Juice of half a lime (or lemon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
I just chopped it in the Vitamix (level 1) for a few seconds but otherwise everything could just be chopped up and mixed together.
Before everyone left we gave away some little Ridvan goodies. I made the kids heart shaped crayons and bookmarks for the adults using pictures of roses and a quotation.
The poster read:
"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!"
And here's my little sweetie - he finally got to touch the tissue paper roses which he's been trying to get to the last few days, so he was happy!! :-)
For more ideas about celebrating Ridvan, check out the recent Ridvan post on Enable Me To Grow.
(As a side note, Penina and I have had a few fun "renovations" on EMTG which you can read about here! And we also have a new Welcome Pack for new subscribers which you can read about here.)
Happy Ridvan to all!