Nov 18, 2008

The way we celebrate

Like the multicultural nation that we call home, the Canadian Jamat is diverse and comes from all corners of the globe. In the four decades since our community’s settlement, we have adapted to the culture, language, and society of our new country. But in the days leading up to Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit to Canada, the ways in which we celebrate will reveal our enduring ties to our cultural and historical roots.

Jamati members of all ages will share their joy by participating in a variety of dances, such as dandia and raas, which trace their origins to the Indian sub-content. Ismailis from Central Asia, who began arriving in Canada more recently, have added the traditional Afghan attan dance to the mix. Meanwhile, contemporary hip-hop and bollywood influences will complement the rhythms of the dance floor.
The diversity of heritage in the Canadian Jamat is also woven into our garments and accoutrements. Ladies will dress in beautiful silk saris and gandai-afghani. Mendhi parties are being organised for the festive adornment of henna on hands and feet for joy, beauty and barakah (blessings). The resulting tapestry of colour and style will decorate and enliven the merriment.

Traditional meals are an important part of our festivities. Customary menus featuring pilau, biriyani or khaliyo will be complemented by spicy chutneys, and achaars, as well as sweet treats like sticky jalebi, syrup-soaked gulab jamun. Pink sharbat and mango lassi will add to the usual complement of tea, coffee, and juice.
The unity of the Jamat and our love for the Imam of the Time is reflected in the theme One Jamat, One Heart that links celebratory events planned across the country. Programmes such as Khushamadeed will gather the Jamat for dinner, dancing and live band music. Performances such as Allah Hu, Allah Hu, Expressions and Umeed-e-Deedar, will provide a stage for vocalists and instrumentalists to capture the Jamat’s sentiments of devotion, hope and anticipation.
Programming has also been planned for different segments of the Jamat. J2D: Journey to Darbar aims to engage the youth — not only in the celebrations, but also in educational, voluntary, and leadership endeavours. It begins with an orientation session for youth leaders, which will include a gala dinner with the senior leadership in each major centre. The programme will also comprise a series of discussion panels and seminars to engage young Ismailis on issues of significance to the Golden Jubilee.
J2D will culminate in a massive youth day in each region, with special ceremonies and celebrations. Regional celebratory spaces will host a specific area where youth can gather, share their experiences and reflect on this momentous occasion.
Special initiatives are also being organised to make it easier for the elderly in the Jamat to take part in the excitement. In British Columbia and Ontario, volunteers are arranging visits with Ismailis living in nursing homes and hospitals to share the festivity and enable them to be involved in the celebration.
Meanwhile, seniors in Edmonton are working on a special quilt making project, in which each participant writes a personal sentiment in the language of their choice on a square of cloth. The squares — with messages in English, Farsi, Gujarati, Urdu, and other languages — are being sewn together to create a single quilt that will be displayed prominently at the Darbar venue.

Some members of the Jamat — particularly the very young — will be experiencing their first Jubilee Darbar. Programmes and activities have been arranged in Jamatkhanas and Bait-ul Ilm classes to prepare them for what will happen on the day of the Darbar and help them to appreciate the significance of the occasion. Educational programmes have also been created for non-Ismaili family members to enhance their understanding of the Golden Jubilee and engage them in the celebration.
In the anticipation of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit, the Canadian Jamat will come together across the country. We will dress in our traditional clothing, partake of our traditional meals, play our traditional songs and dance our traditional dances. But from the diversity of our traditions, we will create something new.
In Canada, that’s the way we celebrate.
Ismailiworld - Be Unite

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