For Mother’s Day – and the rest of the week – don’t miss a very unique and unexpected “Mummy Hug” at Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s Living Sea Exhibition in Calgary


At Calgary’s Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana this morning, May 14th, 2023, attending members gathered in the social hall after prayers to celebrate a birthday with a cake. Spread across the “chai” and “mandazi” table were beautiful fresh rose stems. All mothers received a rose each, followed by inspiring prayers as well as tributes to mothers around the world from the Mukhi and Kamadiasahebs (leaders of the congregation.) It was absolutely refreshing to see beautiful smiles on the faces of all the mothers of all ages that early in the morning. But it was MOTHER’S DAY!

Sea Lions, Hussain Aga Khan
Sea Lions by Prince Hussain Aga Khan at The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty exhibition, Calgary, May 11-21, 2023. Photograph: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Hours earlier, before leaving home, I had sent individual Mother’s Day wishes to special friends I have known for many years. In response, one of them sweetly replied with fond prayers for my health and added the 4 letters HUGS!

At this, my thought immediately turned to a photograph taken by Prince Hussain Aga Khan in August 2018 in La Paz, Mexico. A small print as well as a much larger print of the photo appears at his Living Sea exhibition in Calgary that opened to large crowds on Thursday, May 11 — the stunning photographic exhibition continues at Glenbow at the Edison until May 21, and the entrance is free. The photograph is entitled “Moving Mummy Hug” and it is of a sea lion swimming with its baby, hugging it momentarily. The absolutely amazing photograph has touched the hearts of everyone who has seen it and one visitor said to me in a short interview for my first day’s report: “Prince Hussain captures moments with these animals that shows that they have this almost human characteristic — this love, this energy that really helps people relate to them and really feel for them…. He almost photographs them as if they are members of his own family…. It’s really a neat feeling that you have when you look at these, and I think of my own children and I think of these animals with their own calves, and its just unbelievable.”

Moving Mummy Hug by Hussain Aga Khan.
“Moving Mummy Hug,” captured by Prince Hussain Aga Khan in La Paz, Mexico, August 2018. Exhibited at The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty, Calgary, May 11-21, 2023. Exhibit photograph: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

So, I say to everyone visiting today and for the remainder of the duration of the exhibition, view this photograph and others from close, from a distance and from different angles. Prince Hussain notes in the photograph’s caption, “There were about 8 sea lions in that location, all moving at different speeds and in different directions. But this duo seemed organized and even purposeful. The hug lasted seconds or less. It was completely unexpected.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers around the world and to all specials friends who are mothers!

Date posted: May 14, 2023.


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