Volunteers move rocks to create a mountain-side Golden Jubilee welcome sign for Mawlana Hazar Imam. The city of Khorog is visible below. Gordon Cumming
The Jamat of Tajikistan is eagerly awaiting the commencement of Mawlana Hazar Imam's visit with anticipation and excitement. From sprucing up the streets to holding celebratory community gatherings, members of the Jamat are preparing for the first Darbars in Tajikistan in ten years.
The Gorno-Badakhshan province is home to a majority of the country's Jamat, and its administrative capital, Khorog, has been teeming with activity.
A mountain-side sign built from stones by the Khorog Jamat will welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam on his Golden Jubilee visit to Tajikistan. Gordon Cumming
In 1995, on the occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam's first Deedar in Tajikistan, Jamati members from Khorog constructed a rock arrangement reading “Welcome Our Hazir Imam” on the side of the Pamir Mountains. Over the past few weeks, a contingent of volunteers has undertaken the arduous process of adding the words Golden Jubilee below the existing sign. After hiking up several hundred metres to the sign's location, they passed large rocks from one person to the next, to set them in place. Later, they formed a brigade to haul water up from the river, in order to brighten the words for the upcoming visit.
Elsewhere, construction continues at the Khorog Park, a project of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, while families gather around the park's newly installed benches and playground equipment. At the Aga Khan Lycée, the first private school in Gorno-Badakhshan and home to over 950 students in grades 1-11, pupils and teachers are busy cleaning and decorating their school. “We want to show Hazar Imam how the school has changed since he opened it in 1998, ten years ago,” said a primary teacher at the Lycée. Students have painted the corridors and created special learning areas including a puppet theatre, art, music and nature centres and a math corner.
Families have already begun celebrating the upcoming visit in Khorog Park, which is being developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Gordon Cumming
In Dushanbe, Mawlana Hazar Imam is expected to meet senior government officials and visit AKDN projects in the city including the Dushanbe Serena Hotel and the Ismaili Centre. “People consider the Golden Jubilee visit of Mawlana Hazar Imam to Tajikistan to be a very significant, historic and unique event, as it has been celebrated by the Ismaili community during the year and brought lots of new ideas and perspectives to the community,” remarked one member of the Jamat from the Zarafshon district of Dushanbe.
At the Poetry Club, one of the after-school activities at the Aga Khan Lycée, students work on a project they have created to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. Gordon Cumming
An Ismaili teacher of Tajik language and literature echoes the sentiment of anticipation: “The first Deedar was like a dream for me,” she says in reflection. “Now we are waiting consciously for the upcoming visit and I am full of thoughts, emotions and impatiently expecting to see our beloved Hazar Imam once again. This happy long-expected day is going to happen very soon.”