Editor’s note: We have recently received six more historical photographs from the collection of the Kothari family. They are being added below just before the original write-up and photos which were submitted by Ms. Taj Kothari of Florida and her brother, Bashir Kothari, of Calgary, Alberta, for this website’s special series on the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III (H.H.The Aga Khan III). The photos were preserved over the years by their late mother Itmadibanu Khadija Kothari, pictured above. We would appreciate receiving names of individuals who have not been identified in the photos. Please use the feedback form below or email email@example.com (subject: Kothari collection captions).
The Kothari’s write:
This opportunity to share a little bit about our family through this Web site has given us immense inner happiness in the sense that we feel that our family’s humble and sincere contribution is being recorded somewhere. We hope that other readers of this blog will share their stories too.
Alijah Ismail Punja Kothari and Itmadi Kassam Kothari, our grand father and father respectively, worked closely with our beloved 48th Imam, Hazrat Sultan Mahomedd Shah, Aga Khan III, and also were brought up in the Raj Darbar. My grandfather was awarded a Justice Of Peace Medal by the British Government. This medal was saved by our late mother, Khadija, and is still with us today. As a note I might add that our family was provided special escort by the British whenever we left the home to go out. This was due to our closeness with the Maharajas (literally meaning great or high kings). India at that time was made up of princely states each with its own ruler.
The above photo was taken in 1927 at the residence of my grandfather, Alijah Ismail Punja Kothari, when Imam Sultan Mahomed, the Maharaja of Jamnagar – Jam Ranjit Singh – and the the King of Limbdi visited our bungalow in Jamnagar, Kathiawar. They held a meeting which was attended by our family members and also had lunch during the visit.
Seated on the ground in a traditional dress is my grandfather, Alijah Ismail Kothari. My father, Itmadi Kassam Kothari, is the person in the white suit and tie, by the pole on the right. Standing between Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah and Jam Ranjit Singh, the Maharajah, is my grandfather’s older brother, Premji Punja, with a white turban. As you can see, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah is in a white suit and hat and carrying a cane.
All the Highness’s were garlanded by my grandfather.
The demise of our grandfather – a handwritten message from the Imam
Above is shown an image of a handwritten telegraph that my father received from our beloved 48th Imam when our grandfather, Alijah Ismail Kothari, passed away.
The telegraph was sent from Cannes and has an official receipt date in Jamnagar of 15 April, 1934. As the heading suggests, it was processed by the Indian Posts and Telegraph department. Some of the features that can be noted – number of words in the telegraph (25) and that it was dispatched from Cannes on 13 April at around 14:00 hours.
The transcript of the message is as follows:
“Dear Cassam Ismail Poonja care Ismaili Council Jamnagar
Deepest sympathy and blessing
your poor father whom
I will allways remember
for his great service Aga Khan”
On the lower half of the page is seen a Gujarati Tarjuma (translation) of the Imam’s message.
The photograph shown above was taken during our beloved 48th Imam’s visit to the State of Jamnagar in February,1939. The same photo is published adjacent to page 342 in Dumasia’s book “The Aga Khan and his Ancestors.”
From left to right are His Highness Jam Saheb, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah and Jam Saheb’s brother, who is seen holding the Jam Saheb’s daughter in his arms. On the extreme right of the picture, in the volunteer’s uniform, is Major Lakhpati of Bombay, and standing beside him in the traditional dress of the Raj Darbar is our father, Itmadi Kassam Kothari. He wore the dress of the Raj Darbar since he was working with the Maharajas of Jamnagar.
The above photo was taken during Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s visit to London in 1954 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He and Mata Salamat met with the Mukhi and some other members of the Jamat at a hotel in London. Our (late) brother, Hadi, was among the Ismailis visiting London and he is in the picture seated on the floor, at left.
There is a very interesting account of how my brother got into the photo. Now, this anecdote was conveyed to us by one of the person’s who happened to be present, and we have the video of this conversation with him that was taken in Kenya in 2003.
It appears there wasn’t enough room for everyone to fit in the group photo and our brother, Hadi, could not join in.
But before the photo was taken, the Imam inquired of the Mukhi “aur koy baki hey?” (Is anyone left out?)
The Mukhi had told my brother there was no room and he could not join, but there was no way out of this question that the Imam asked, and the Mukhi replied: ” Khudavind ek baki hey” (one person is missing).
The Imam asked, ” Kon hai?” (who is that person?)
The Mukhi replied “Hadi Kothari.”
The Imam sought a confirmation, “Kothari?”
The Mukhi replied, “Yes, Khudavind.”
The Imam said: “Usko Bulao, uske Bap Dada ne Imam ke Ghar ki Bahoth seva kihe” (call him – his father and grandfather have rendered a lot of service to the House of the Imam).
Our brother, Hadi, passed away on May 24, 2004 leaving behind his widow, Khairoun, who lives in Nairobi, and two daughters. Hadi served in various capacities until 2000.
Hadi also appears in the next two group photos taken with Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah’s two sons, the late Prince Aly Khan (June 13, 1911 – May 12, 1960) and late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (17 January 1933 – 12 May 2003).
Prince Aly Khan in group photo
Prince Sadruddin in group photo
Updated: April 2, 2012
For the special series on Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah please click H.H.The Aga Khan III.
A note to all readers:
Other articles in the special Series on Aga Khan III: