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Ridvan: The Garden of Ridvan's letters to a friend

To explain the Bahá’í faith holiday of Ridván and to encourage understanding of different religious holidays.

by Emma Burford

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To explain the Bahá’í faith holiday of Ridván and to encourage understanding of different religious holidays.

Preparation and materials

  • The script is suitable for children of Years 3 to 6 to perform.
  • Staging ideas: There is a variety of ways in which you could stage this performance. You could have the four gardens sitting on four stage blocks spread across the stage. The children could stand up when reading their letters, with the extra characters standing around the stage block when saying their lines.
  • You could have one stage block and have each garden step onto it when they are saying their lines. All the other action could then take place around the one stage block.
  • For this script there are 12 characters. In order to include more children in the performance, miming could be added to the speeches. For example, when the garden is talking about how the word has got around about them, the children could mime a message being carried around the stage, Chinese whispers style; also they could create the river that the family crosses with a long piece of blue material.
  • Costume ideas: I always find the best costumes are simple ones that symbolize a character. For example, the gardens could wear a green tunic, the festivals could wear a colourful tunic. Or all the children could be in black with pieces of costume showing certain characters. I’m sure the children will have lots of ideas!
  • Links with art: If there are children with a flair for art in the class, they could create more elaborate garden costumes, such as leaves being created with hand prints.
  • Curriculum links: drama, English and RE.

CAST

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4

Festival 1

Festival 2

Festival 3

Festival 4

Festival 5

Navy Officer

Najib Pasha

Baha’u’lláh

Assembly

Introduction  Today we are going to introduce to you a story that takes place in Baghdad. The story is using letters from the Garden of Najibiyyih to a friend and how the garden eventually became the Garden of Ridván. Let’s watch and listen to how the letters tell the story. 

Garden 1  21 April 1863. My dear new friend,

This is the first letter to you. As we have just met, let me introduce myself. I am the Najibiyyih Garden. I was born in 1850 by officers of the Indian Navy.

Navy Officer  We need to position the garden to the north of the city of Baghdad and to the east of the Tigris River, with four paths leading into the centre.

Garden 1  After the Indian Navy made the plans, it was up to Muhammad Najib Pasha to create me.

Najib Pasha  I was the governor of Baghdad from 1842 to 1847. I built the garden and the palace situated at the edge. The garden was named after me.

Garden 1  Can you believe that I was created with a palace? I am a beautiful garden. People are in awe of me. I know I am destined for great things.

Your friend, Najibiyyih Garden.

Garden 2  22 April 1863. My dear friend,

There has been someone new to visit me. His name is Baha’u’lláh, and he is the founder of the Bahá’i faith. I have heard that he has been banished from Baghdad by the government because of his influence over the citizens. He travelled across the Tigris River with his family. Once he arrived here, he made an announcement that I overheard.

Baha’u’lláh  For the next 11 days I will receive visitors before I travel to Constantinople.

Garden 2  I will watch him work, my friend, and tell you all about it. I know the people of Baghdad will be sorrowful to see Baha’u’lláh leave them. I do not know this man, but I will get to know him, as he stays within my garden. I will write again soon. Your friend, Najibiyyih Garden.

Garden 3  2 May 1863. My dear friend,

I have so much to tell you. The past 11 days have been so wonderful and enlightening. I have observed Baha’u’lláh meet with government officials and all sorts of people. Baha’u’lláh’s family finally arrived on the ninth day, as up till then the Tigris River had risen so much that they were unable to cross it. Baha’u’lláh and his family have now made their way to Constantinople. But before he left, my friend, Baha’u’lláh gave me a new name, of Ridván, meaning ‘paradise’, during his time here. I can’t believe it! I told you before, my friend, I am destined for great things. Your friend, The Garden of Ridván.

Garden 4  My dear friend, this will be my last letter to you. I have to tell you about a festival that is now named after me! Many people have told me about the festival of Ridván.

Festival 1  Ridván is a 12-day festival.

Garden 4  As this was the length of days that Baha’u’lláh stayed in my gardens.

Festival 2  It is known as the King of Festivals and is celebrated by the Bahá’i’s between 20 April and 2 May.

Festival 3  The first, ninth and twelfth days are holy days.

Garden 4  The first is to celebrate the arrival of Baha’u’lláh to my garden, the ninth is when Bahá’u’lláh’s family arrived, and the twelfth is to celebrate when Baha’u’lláh left for Constantinople.

Festival 4  During these days work is prohibited.

Festival 5  On those three days, people come together in prayer followed by celebrations.

Garden 4  So, my friend, thanks to Baha’u’lláh, I will always be known and celebrated for centuries to come. Come and visit me when you get the chance.
Your friend, the Garden of Ridván.

Time for reflection

Spend a few moments thinking about how religions and how figures of the past have struggled to be heard.

We are thankful that there are so many religions in the world, helping us to think about God, and making our world a more interesting place to live in.

Song/music

‘Morning has broken’ (Come and Praise, 1)

Publication date: April 2013   (Vol.15 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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