Plov (Pilaf) Rice – King of Meals in Tajikistan – is Now on UNESCO’S Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

It is said that Avicenna, the famed Muslim philosopher, medical expert and scientist, whom Ismailis like to claim as their own, created the first ever recipe for the Pilaf (Pilau, Plov, Palov, Oshi Palav etc.). He was born in Bukhara in modern day Uzbekistan. Now more than a 1000 years later, the much beloved Central Asian dish has been recognized by UNESCO as part of Tajikistan’s and Uzbekistan’s intangible cultural heritage. Read this story and also try out a pilaf recipe from Khorog, Tajikistan, which is provided below.

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Osh, generically known as plov (pilaf),is a rice dish made with shredded yellow turnip or carrot, and pieces of meat, all fried together in vegetable oil or mutton fat in a special qazan (a wok-shaped cauldron) over an open flame. The meat is cubed, the carrots are chopped finely into long strips, and the rice is colored yellow or orange by the frying carrots and the oil. The dish is eaten communally, often with one’s hands in the traditional way from a single large plate placed at the center of the table. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

Material for this piece  was compiled and adapted
by Abdulmalik Merchant, Editor, Simerg.

UNESCO’s Plov Inscription

Tajikistan’s “Oshi Palav” and Uzbekistan’s “Palov” (versions of the dish commonly called Plov in Central Asia) were both inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity when UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage met at its 11th annual session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference held from 28 November to 2 December 2016.

Both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had separately applied to UNESCO in 2015 — within a few weeks of each other — to have the plov recognized as part of their nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Readers will be interested to learn that UNESCO has inscribed numerous foods, including beverages such as coffee, as well as festivals such as Nauroz in its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Across Central Asia, the deceptively simple plov dish is based around lamb, rice, onions and carrots simmered in broth, and accompanies every meaningful life-cycle event. Food historians have noted that versions of plov are spread across Asia. The Turkish pilav, Persian polow and Indian pilau –- and even Spanish paella — are all related, with versions including dried fruit, paprika, garlic, tomato, beans and spices.

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Preparations for Plov (pilaf)…cleaning and cutting carrots. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

With regard to Tajikistan’s application for inscription of the Palav as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, the UNESCO committee noted that the ‘Oshi Palav’ is a traditional dish of communities in Tajikistan and recognized it as a part of their cultural heritage and practice that aims to bring people of different backgrounds together. The dish is prepared to be enjoyed at regular mealtimes as well as social gatherings, celebrations and rituals. Known as the ‘King of Meals’, the Palav is based on a recipe using vegetables, rice, meat and spices but up to 200 varieties of the dish exist.

The importance of the dish to communities in Tajikistan is indicative in sayings such as “No Oshi Palav, no acquaintance” or “If you have eaten Oshi Palav from somebody, you must respect them for 40 years”!

Groups of men or women prepare the dish either in their homes or at tea houses while socializing or playing music and singing. Knowledge and skills associated with the practice is transmitted on an inter-generational basis in families, in addition to cooking schools from master to apprentice. Once an apprentice masters Oshi Palav, the apprentice hosts a dinner for the trainer and guests during which the trainer receives a skull-cap and traditional dress while the apprentice receives a skimmer (a tool for cooking Oshi Palav) symbolizing the apprentice’s independence.

Frederik van Oudenhoven happily displaying “With Our Own Hands” that he co-authored with Jamila Haider. Photo: Facebook page, PamirFoodandLife. The magnificent volume is now out of print, but may be obtained through resellers at Amazon.

Frederik van Oudenhoven happily displaying “With Our Own Hands” that he co-authored with Jamila Haider. Photo: Facebook page, PamirFoodandLife. The magnificent volume is now out of print, but may be obtained through resellers at Amazon.

Readers of this website may recall an award winning book called “With Our Own Hands – A Celebration of Food and Life in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan” which we featured and also offered for sale last spring. It quickly sold out and the book is now out of print.  A recipe from the book for the Plov that is prepared in Khorog, Tajikistan, is reproduced below. The Pamiri people living to the south of the Panj River in neighbouring Afghanistan use a slightly different recipe for their Palao, as it is known there, and making a good Palao is considered the most essential culinary skill a woman should possess to be a good wife!

A Note on Rice

“Rice was, and in some places still is, a food reserved still reserved for the most esteemed guests. No matter how many other dishes are prepared for the guests, if there is no rice the meal will still be considered poor…..Like salt, rice could not be produced from the soils of Western Pamirs…Shali was the name of the rice that was most commonly brought, a delicious variety that was exchanged for large quantities of Pamiri wool. It was so valuable that in the Wakhan valley, dropping even a single grain of rice was likened to dropping the relic of a saint.” — excerpt from With Our Own Hands, p. 287.

Plov – How it is Prepared in Khorog

(Material and recipe adapted from “With Our Own Hands,” pp. 607-609)

Plov in the Tajik Pamirs is a much loved rice dish for celebrations and offering to guests. Good quality rice that doesn’t absorb too much moisture is an important part of this dish. The plov cooked with ozgensky rice (from the city of Uzgen in the Fergana Valley of Southern Kyrgyzstan) is truly delicious. Orgencky rice is sometimes available in the Khorog market but more common, due to its affordability, is the poorer quality Chinese rice.

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Plov is one of the most popular dishes at the bazaar in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in Tajikistan. Khorog, with a population of approximately 32,000, is mostly inhabited by Ismailis. Photo: “With Our Own Hands,” page 607.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups rice; 1 cup chickpeas; 1 small cup vegetable oil; 2 onions; 1-1.5 tbsp. cumin; 6 carrots; 2–3 cups mutton; 8 cups water; 1 head of garlic; and salt to taste.

MAKING THE KHOROG PLOV

  • Soak the chickpeas overnight;
  • wash and drain the rice, chop onions, cut the carrot into strips and the meat into bite sized pieces (meat is often left in the bone);
  • Heat the oil in a kazan (or large cooking pot, something like a wok, see photo) and cook the meat for 20-30 minutes with the lid closed then add the onions and salt towards the end;
  • Add the carrots, chickpeas and sprinkle cumin over the top. DO NOT STIR;
  • Cover the pan and cook for another 7-10 minutes;
  • Add 8 cups of water (less if rice needs less water to cook) and then pour in the rice;
  • Make sure the rice is spread evenly over the other ingredients, but STILL DO NOT STIR;
  • Place the unpeeled head of garlic on top of the rice. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes;
  • Now heap up the rice towards the centre of the pot (that is, it is still on top of the other ingredients);
  • Make several holes through the (heaped) rice down to the bottom to allow the steam and flavours from the meat and vegetables to circulate through the pan;
  • Keep the garlic head on top of the rice;
  • Put the lid on and seal well, with a cloth if necessary. Simmer for another 20 minutes, without opening the lid; and
  • Finally, mix all the ingredients and serve on a large plate with the garlic, accompanied by a fresh salad of spring onions, tomatoes, green chili and salt.

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Plov in Uzbekistan

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The finest Plov in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

There is a saying in Uzbekistan that guests can only leave their host’s house after palov has been offered. Palov is a traditional dish made and shared throughout rural and urban communities of Uzbekistan. It is prepared with ingredients such as rice, meat, spices and vegetables and in addition to be enjoyed as a regular meal, is served as a gesture of hospitality, to celebrate special occasions like weddings and new year, to help those in need who are underprivileged, or to honour loved ones who have passed away. Palov may also feature at events alongside other rituals taking place such as prayer and performances of traditional music. It is a dish that is cooked by men and women regardless of age or social status. Knowledge and skills associated with the practice are handed down from older to younger generations formally and informally using a master-apprentice model or by demonstration and participation within families, peer groups, community-based establishments, religious organizations and vocational educational institutions. The making and sharing of the traditional dish acts to strengthen social ties, promote values including solidarity and unity and assist in the continuity of local traditions that form a part of the community’s cultural identity.

Date posted: Saturday, January 7, 2017.
Last updated: January 8, 2017 (9:15 EST).

FORTHCOMING (week of January 9, 2017): Shariffa Keshavjee of Nairobi, Kenya, reflects on the highly acclaimed and award winning book “With Our Own Hands.”

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Material for the post was compiled from numerous sources including:

1.Tajikistan inscription details at:
http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/decisions/11.COM/10.B.33
2. Uzbekistan:
http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/palov-culture-and-tradition-01166
3. For complete list of  inscriptions, click http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/lists.
4. Also read “All You Need is Plov — Central Asians vie for ownership of a much-loved dish” by   clicking https://iwpr.net/global-voices/all-you-need-plov.
5. For pilaf’s Avicenna connection, please see http://www.dailysabah.com/food/2016/12/10/uzbek-traditional-rice-now-on-unesco-heritage-list.
6. Please also see our piece The Story of a Beautiful and Intriguing Cookbook from the Pamirs, “With Our Own Hands”

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We welcome your feedback. Please click on Leave a comment.

Must Watch: A Fantastic Cultural Celebration in Moscow for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th Birthday

Please click: Ismailis in Moscow Celebrate His Highness the Aga Khan’s 80th Birthday

Please click on photo to view segments of concert.

Please click on photo to view wonderful segments of concert.

Date posted: January 4, 2017.

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Simerg’s Highly Popular Articles Over the Years: (1) 7 Great Pieces Including Daman’s Khoja Ismailis, Rumi’s Snake Catcher Story and Aga Khan’s Road to Happiness

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor, Simerg

On an occasional basis, Simerg will be drawing its readers’ attention to popular pieces published on this website over the past almost eight years. Likewise, in the course of this series I shall be informing readers about many extraordinary pieces that have not received the readership they deserve. For now, here are links to 7 pieces with more than 9,000 views each. Other popular articles will be mentioned, 7 at a time, in the coming year.

(for articles, please click on links or photos)

11,000 Views

1. PLEASE CLICK: A Brief History of the Khoja Ismaili Community in Daman, India, from the Portuguese Period to the Present by Toral Pradhan, first published October 7, 2013.

The original Daman jamatkhana, above, and a neighbouring Parsee house, below. The jamatkhana was closed in the 1960′s due to its condition.

Old jamatkhana – Daman Khoja history.

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9,000 Views

2. PLEASE CLICK: Two Tales from Rumi: The Snake-Catcher and the Serpent & The Elephant and the Travellers by Zayn Kassam, March 3, 2011.

Illustration by Fatima Hirji. Copyright.

Rumi’s Snake Catcher Story.

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12,000 Views

3. PLEASE CLICK: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale, August 18, 2010.

His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo Credit: Politique Interntional

Aga Khan Interview: Power of Wisdom.

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15,800 Views

4. PLEASE CLICK: Timeline of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Awards and Honour by Mohib Ebrahim, January 2010.

Aga Khan Timeline

Aga Khan Timeline

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31,000 Views

5. PLEASE CLICK: The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an by Jehangir Merchant (Revised), Originally published on October 6, 2011.

Noah's Ark.

Noah’s Ark.

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20,000 Views

6. PLEASE CLICK: The Road to Happiness and The Concept of Life by His Highness the Aga Khan III, November 14, 2009.

Road to Happiness

Road to Happiness

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11,000 Views

7. PLEASE CLICK: The Preamble Of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”, December 10, 2010.

Preamble Ismaili Constitution

Preamble Ismaili Constitution

We wish to record our deep appreciation to thousands of readers who visit Simerg and its sister websites regularly and send us feedback, and to all our contributors for the great articles and photo essays that they have submitted for publication for the reading pleasure and enjoyment of our readers around the world — we have gained richly from their knowledge and the fresh insights they have provided.

We wish everyone a very happy and prosperous new year.

At the same time we pray for peace in lands where there are brutal conflicts resulting in loss of life and unimaginable injuries, and where people, especially children, have to endure pain and sorrow everyday.

Date posted: Friday, December 30, 2016.
Last updated: December 31, 2016 (2:35 am EST, corrected stats).

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A Delightful Pictorial Summary of Our 2016 Posts: From Historical Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan to Inspiring Travelogues and Photo Essays

Please click: 33 Awesome Photos!

With 2017 getting very close, a year in which Canada will be celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1 and His Highness the Aga Khan will be completing his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims on July 11, we felt we should leave 2016 with a Pictorial Summary for the articles that appeared at Simergphotos during the year. We hope the 33 Photos we have chosen will inspire our readers to delve a little bit more deeply into the detailed pieces.

PLEASE CLICK: 33 Awesome Photos that Summarize Our 2016 Posts: From Historical Visits and Landmark Ceremonies of His Highness the Aga Khan to Fantastic Travelogues and Photo Essays

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau picture on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at the Office of the Prime Minister located at the Centre Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisee. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pictured on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at the Office of the Prime Minister located at the Centre Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisee. Copyright. Please click photo for a pictorial summary of our 2016 Posts on Simergphotos.

Date posted: December 28, 2016.

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Simerg in 2016: Photo Blog Published Rare Photos from Hazar Imam’s 59 Year Reign and Great Travelogues and Stories

Kindly share http://www.Simerg.com with your friends, family members, relatives and all your other contacts around the world via email, the social media and by word of mouth! Thank you – ed.

Prince Amyn Muhammad and Princess Zahra applaud as the birthday cake is presented to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

A marvellous end to 2016! Mawlana Hazar Imam is applauded by members of his family as a cake is presented to him for his landmark 80th birthday, making him the oldest serving Imam in Ismaili history. The celebration was held at his home in Aiglemont, France, on Friday December 16, 2016. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

By Abdulmalik Merchant
(editor/publisher Simerg, Simerphotos, and Barakah)

SIMERGPHOTOS commenced the year with the publication of rare photographs that had never been released or seen before! The late Papa Jaan’s treasure trove of photographs of  Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic first visit to Hunza, was brought to our attention by  Montreal’s Muslim Harji, and with the  family’s support we published more photos that Papa Jaan (Abdul M. Ismaily, 1926-1981) took during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan and Uganda as well as Prince Sadruddin’s Visit to East Africa. Sultan Jessa, who worked at the Daily Nation, then shared with us a set of his colleague Azhar Chaudry’s photos of the Aga Khan’s Visits to East Africa!

Muslim Harji’s name is on the lips of all our readers! He has never failed to take stunning photographs during his countless trips around the world, and his Central Asian photo essay series from 2015 overflowed into 2016 with Tajikistan’s Stunning Landscapes. Harji later would overwhelm our readers with  Photographs about Sacred  Spaces and, with the year about to end, he brilliantly captured Montreal’s Celebration of the 80th Birthday of Mawlana Hazar Imam. With regard to the birthday celebration we showed Mawlana Hazar Imam Being Gifted with a Unique Piece  of Art Created by Ismaili Artist Gulgee.

Even as he approached — and now has completed — his 80th birthday (December 13), a record for any Imam in Ismaili history, Mawlana Hazar Imam tirelessly visited many parts of the world. We have photos of his  Parliament Hill Visit in Ottawa by Jean-Marc Carisse , the visit to Portugal Where He Introduced Officials of the Imamat  and His visit to Egypt for a Business for Africa Forum. He also attended and awarded prizes in the UAE to The 2016 Winners of Aga Khan Award for Architecture. We decided to relive a Ten minute 2015 PBS episode about His Highness the Aga Khan  and we know that many readers visited PBS.

We received a few pleasant surprises along the way with Juby Sprake of Vancouver offering three very sweet photos of Hazar Imam’s 1966 visit to the Nairobi Aga Khan Primary School. Linda Baxter, a niece of the late Mr. Frank Pattrick, who worked for the Daily Nation, kindly sent Letters and Photographs of His Highness the Aga Khan from her family collection.

12 year old Renaye Tejani bakes cookies for charity and spreads joy in Mumbai, India.

12 year old Renaye Tejani bakes cookies for charity and spreads joy in Mumbai, India.

Nurin Merchant had visited Yellowstone, the world’s very first national park, some 5 years ago with her dad (author of this post) and decided to do a photo summary about Her One-of-a-Kind Experience in Yellowstone. Her grandparents came up with Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Alykhan’s visit to Mozambique where they had both served during the 1950’s.

Family members sent us inspiring stories about their children. Readers were charmed with Renaye Tejani  of Mumbai Spreading Joy Through Baking. The Maherali family in Atlanta had taken their two sons to Dubai for the Ismaili Jubilee games where Riyaan Maherali met a basketball player who touched his heart. Not to be overlooked was the story about the Welcome Celebration of the Jubilee Games Lantern at the Children’s Soccer Camp in Burnaby.

Members of the  Ismaili community are active everywhere in supporting initiatives for a better world, and we were immensely proud to record the inspiring work of Ismaili Educators helping with Marginalized Children in Nairobi. We also showcased thousands of  Canadians participating in the Annual World Partnership Walk in Vancouver.

Ali Karim, like Muslim Harji, is an intrepid traveller and he undertook a momentous journey with his wife Dilshad to China and Northern Pakistan along the old Silk Road. His travelogue began in Shanghai, and he then proceeded to Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar before he finally reached his last stop in China in Tashkurgan where he met an Ismaili family. His remarkable account with stunning photographs of Ismailis in Northern Hunza is a must read for everyone who hasn’t yet read the post! We have one final Hunza episode from Karim coming up within the next fortnight.

Passu, Hunza. Ali Karim. Copyright.

Passu, Hunza. Ali Karim. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam mentioned in his remarks during the celebration of his 80th birthday, that he feels he is half his age! Therefore, we look forward to celebrating his Diamond Jubilee in 2017, with a prayer and a hope that he will remain in good health, and that all communities around the world will continue to benefit from his wisdom and his selfless work that has had such a major impact on marginalized communities around the world, especially in Asia and Africa. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s support of major development projects through his network, including Ismaili institutions and the Aga Khan Development Network, has always been  underpinned by the  Qur’anic ethic and principle that everyone is “born out of a single soul.”

We wish all our readers around the world a New Year filled with good health, peace, happiness and success in all their endeavours, and particularly pray for a peaceful world!

Individual Links to Our Treasure Trove of Photos

December 16, 2016: Hazar Imam’s Landmark 80th Birthday Celebration, With a Special Touch from Gulgee

“The medium Gulgee used in these mosaics is blue lapis lazuli stones. He had to pick through thousands of pieces of blue stone, in varying colors and shapes and sizes. Then, he had to arrange them in such a way that they formed a perfect portrait of a living person. He described it as being similar to a giant jigsaw puzzle.” Read More…

PLEASE CLICK: AN EXCEPTIONAL GIFT TO HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN FOR HIS LANDMARK 80TH BIRTHDAY

Please click on image for article and more photos.

Please click on image for article and more photos.

Beautiful Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s 80th Birthday Celebrations in Montreal by Muslim Harji

Immerse yourself in beautifully vibrant photos that Muslim Harji captured in Montreal during the celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic 80th birthday on December 13th and 17th, 2016. Like his other distinguished and highly acclaimed photo pieces on this site and its sister photo blog Simergphotos, Muslim Harji brilliantly captures — and brings to life — the spirit and happiness of Ismailis at the event in Montreal’s headquarters jamatkhana. Volunteers, children, youth, the senior citizens…no one is left out in this fine assortment of photographs!

PLEASE CLICK: Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th Birthday – Montreal’s Beautiful Event

Please click for a gorgeous collection of photos of the Montreal Saligrah. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

Please click for a gorgeous collection of photos of the Montreal Saligrah. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

Date posted: December 21, 2016.

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Tens of Thousands of Canadian Ismailis Brave Wintry Conditions to Celebrate 80th Birthday of Aga Khan with Zeal and Devotion; France Video Energizes Community for Imam’s Diamond Jubilee

INTRODUCED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(with material from The Ismaili website)

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A  mosaic of colourful Salgirah cards prepared by children of Burnaby Lake jamatkhana on the occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th birthday. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

“No ocean, no mountain, and no desert can keep the Imam from his murids,” was the caring message that Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, delivered to his spiritual children, the Ismailis, during one of the many visits which he undertook to his global community during his Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The Jubilee began on  July 11, 2007, when he completed 50 years of his reign as the 49th hereditary Imam, directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), and ended on December 13, 2008, on the exact day of his 72nd birthday. He was born in Geneva in 1936.

Eight years on, on Saturday December 17, 2016, the harsh elements of nature — snow, freezing rain, and cold — did not subdue or keep tens of thousands of Ismailis in Canada, from attending the video showing of their beloved Imam’s 80th birthday celebration that had taken place just a day earlier at his  estate and the Imamat headquarters in Aiglemont, France.

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Malik Talib, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, makes a point during a conversation with other Ismaili leaders at the 80th birthday celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

Ismaili leaders from around the world, including President Malik Talib of Canada, travelled to France on behalf of their constituents to personally offer congratulations, express shukrana (thanks), and to reaffirm the Jamat’s bayyah (oath of allegiance) to the 49th Ismaili Imam. Also attending the birthday celebration, were members of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s family – Prince Amyn Muhammad, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and his wife Princess Salwa along with their son Prince Irfan, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad and Princess Zahra’s children, Sara and Ilyan.

Earlier during the week, on December 13, the actual day of his birthday, Ismailis had gathered in their local jamatkhanas for special prayers and ceremonies to affirm their loyalty and love for their Imam. Mawlana Hazar Imam, in becoming 80, has established himself as the oldest serving Imam in Ismaili history!

mawlana-hazar-imam-birtday-dome

Designed specially for the celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th birthday, this centre piece of the venue comprised a geodesic dome. Neither of the East nor of the West, the dome is an ancient symbol of Divine shelter, care and guidance. The Ismaili/Farhez Rayani.

The celebration in Aiglemont was housed in specially designed marquee, with a protective dome that signified the guidance and shelter that Hazar Imam constantly provides. The dome itself was inspired by an icosahedron — a geometric structure composed of 20 triangles. Each triangle symbolised one of the 20 national Ismaili Councils appointed by the Imam to oversee the community’s well-being.

mawlana-hazar-imams-80th-birthday-with-his-family-members-2

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s family in attendance at his 80th birthday celebration held at his home in Aiglemont on Friday, December 16, 2016. From left to right: Prince Hussain, Princess Salwa and her husband Prince Rahim, MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM, Prince Amyn Muhammad, Princess Zahra, Prince Ali Muhammad, and Princess Zahra’s children, Sara and Ilyan. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

president-muhammad-wardeh-of-syria-recites-a-verse-from-the-holy-quran-by-zahur-ramji

The President of the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Syria, Muhammad Wardeh, recites the Tilawat-e-Qur’an at the start of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th birthday celebration. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

mawlana-hazar-imam-speaking-at-his-80th-birthday-celebration

Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses Jamati and institutional leaders, who gathered at his home on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji

mawlana-hazar-imam-80th-birthday-cake-family-applause

Prince Amyn Muhammad and Princess Zahra applaud as the birthday cake is presented to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam cuts his birthday cake, as Princess Salwa and Prince Hussain look on. The Ismaili/Farhez Rayani.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam is presented with a birthday gift on behalf of the global Jamat. Titled “Horses”, this lapis lazuli mosaic was commissioned from the late Ismail Gulgee in 1989. Looking on are the Chairman of the Ismaili Leaders International Forum, Mahmoud Eboo (right), and Vazir Shafik Sachedina. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

prince-hussain-greeting-salim-mukhi-at-mawlana-hazar-imams-80th-birthday

Salim Ahmed, a Canadian jamati leader and a former Darkhana Mukhi, and his wife, are greeted by Prince Hussain at the 80th birthday celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

mawlana-hazar-imam-80th-birthday-with-musicians

Mawlana Hazar Imam meets with the musicians and singers who performed at the celebration of his 80th birthday. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Rahim with Prince Irfan, and Princess Salwa at the 80th birthday celebration. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

Reflecting on the progress of the Jamat over the past several decades, Hazar Imam said, “I think we can conclude today that the Jamat is a strong community. It is a global community. It is a community with strong institutions, with strong ethics and it is respected around the world. This evening is an extraordinarily special occasion for the global Jamat and for the leaders who are here present tonight who are representing them.”

He said that his wish for the decades ahead was that “you stand firmly by the principles and ethics of our faith. Wherever you are, whatever age you are, whatever you do in your lives, it is essentially important to me that the principles of our faith should be respected everyday of your lives.”

When Mawlana Hazar Imam cut a birthday cake presented on behalf of the global Jamat, he was serenaded by all those gathered with Happy Birthday sung in two languages. Hazar Imam was also presented with a gift of art — a mosaic of horses by the late Ismail Gulgee that was commissioned in 1989. It was selected “because of Hazar Imam’s passion for horses, the history of horses within Islamic civilisation and the history even within Mawlana Hazar Imam’s own family,” explained Chairman Eboo.

Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed great happiness at the celebration of his 80th birthday. “If I had known it was going to be so wonderful, I would have tried to bring it forward,” he joked, “and I would have tried to multiply it!” He said, “I hope that in the decades ahead, you will remember this occasion as one of special happiness, as I do.”

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CELEBRATION AT THE ISMAILI CENTRE, BURNABY, DARKHANA OF CANADA

jaman-drakhana-ismaili-centre-in-tent-december-17-2016

Jamati members enjoying the jaman at darkhana jamatkhana following the 80th birthday video presentation from Aiglemont, France. Photo: Simerg.

The jamat at the Darkhana, where I was present for the showing, watched the entire program with awe and absolute discipline.We then proceeded in an orderly fashion to a specially constructed tent in the parking lot to partake of the feast (jaman) prepared by a team of special volunteers of the jamat – the randhan committee. It consisted of fresh lettuce, vegetable and chicken biryanis with kachumber (diced tomatoes and onions), a dessert  (barfi), soft drinks and chai! The tent was heated and very comfortable, protecting everyone from the freezing temperatures. The senior citizens of the jamat were served their dinner at the jamatkhana’s social hall on the second floor. After the feast, members of the jamat joined for a dandhia raas (stick dancing and hand clapping) program!

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Senior citizens wait for the commencement of the dandhia raas program in the social hall of the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby, after completing their meal. Photo: Simerg.

The 80th birthday celebration has generated the momentum for yet another significant milestone in Mawlana Hazar Imam’s life – the celebration of his Diamond Jubilee beginning July 11, 2017, which will take place as Canada begins celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1, 2017.

Date posted: December 20, 2016.

Related: Montreal’s Beautiful Celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th Birthday Through the Lens of Muslim Harji

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For a video of the 80th birthday celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan held in Aiglemont, France, on December 16, 2016, please visit http://www.theismaili.org, the official website of the Ismaili community. Readers will also find there a gallery of more than 30 photographs of the celebration.

For Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th Birthday, A Shukrana Message from Canada’s Aga Khan Council President Malik Talib and Institutional Leaders

Malik Talib

Malik Talib

Mr. Malik Talib, the President of His Highness the Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Canada, along with the Chairmen of the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (Dr. Kabir Jivraj), Grants and Review Board (Mr. Amir Lakhani), and Conciliation and Arbitration Board (Mr. Karim Sunderji), and the Mukhi of Darkhana Jamatkhana (Mr. Zahir Bhatia) issued the following message through the Canadian Ismaili community’s special newsletter edition  of “Al-Akhbar,” as tens of thousands of Ismailis gathered in jamatkhanas across the country to observe the historic 80th birthday or Salgirah of Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan on December 13. The celebrations will continue late into the week with special cultural events, voices from the jamat and video presentations.

COMMON ALLEGIANCE TO MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM UNITES ISMAILI MUSLIMS IN PURPOSE AND VISION

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Mawlana Hazar Imam pictured at the 1998 darbar held in Lisbon, Portugal.

Institutional Message to the Canadian Jamat

This is a historic event for our Jamat. No part of our lives has been untouched by the work and dedication of Mawlana Hazar Imam. For the Jamat in Canada, our very presence here and all of the opportunities afforded to us, have been made possible by the singular concern of our Imam for our material and spiritual well-being.

The spirit of frontierless brotherhood and sisterhood that has helped the community weather many storms springs from a common allegiance to our Imam, uniting us in purpose and vision.

The volume and quality of initiatives established and sustained by the office of the Imamat are staggering. More importantly, these have improved the well-being of millions.

In light of all with which we have been blessed, what can we give back? Perhaps the most powerful form of gratitude would be a re-commitment to the principles of our faith and many of the efforts to which they give rise:

  • Attending to our spiritual lives in a world increasing concerned with material well-being as the sole objective of life;
  • Improving the quality of life of the Jamat and the communities in which we live;
  • Strengthening community and family ties amidst the challenges of modern living;
  • Enhancing our understanding of our faith and our ability to articulate the peaceful, compassionate message of Islam;
  • Promoting pluralism in a world that seems ever more fragmented.

As we approach Canada’s 150th birthday and look forward to commemorating the Diamond Jubilee, it is our hope and prayer that the coming months will be a time of excitement, fulfillment, renewal and happiness.

To all our volunteers and donors who unconditionally and generously commit their time and resources, we sincerely express our special thanks and gratitude.

We offer our humble shukrana to our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam for his continued guidance, and pray for peace and stability for the Jamats living in difficult circumstances and for our collective good health, faith, prosperity, success and unity. Ameen.

Date posted: December 14, 2016.

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