We are lucky to know some of these gems within our community—those who are the primary witnesses to the changing eras. As they reminisce, recounting their childhood stories of being a part of the Diamond Jubilee of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah in 1945, let us walk down memory lane with them and experience vicariously what Diamond Jubilee celebrations were like over 70 years ago. Let us double our happiness through their stories, taking this chance to live through two Diamond Jubilees at once, and think about how the world, and the community have changed over that time. And let us keep in mind, as we participate in the Jubilee celebrations, how we would like to remember the Jubilee for the generations that come after us.
Alijah Kabiruddin Moosabhai Dhamani
84 years, Hyderabad
The Diamond Jubilee ceremony of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah took place at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai which was wonderfully decorated. The Imam was brought into the stadium in a horse cart and he took a round of the stadium and then took the stage and waved at the jamat. Boxes of diamonds were displayed, and everyone was clapping in excitement as the Imam was being weighed against diamonds to commemorate the ceremony. It was a truly magical experience to see such a vast event. I also remember seeing colourful ice statues, and as they melted through the day, coloured water flowed down. That was a time of limited education and poverty, yet a time filled with immense happiness. Today our jamat has progressed in many ways. Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah guided us to migrate to different parts of India and our family is spread across various towns and cities, progressing with the times.
Alijah Gulbanu Jassani
88 years, Nanded/Pune
I remember most clearly our journey from Sudaamda village in Saurashtra to Mumbai for the Diamond Jubilee Darbar. I remember the feeling of pure joy—we were really enjoying ourselves on the train, playing garba, singing songs and having a gala time. Special trains were arranged only for Ismailis and the Ismaili flag was flying on the train. The venue was amazing, and there was a spectacular balwadi [crèche] for the kids. The stadium was filled with people from all over the country. I sat far away behind the crowds with my family, and we used binoculars to watch the ceremony. Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah gave guidance on educating girls during his Jubilee. Times have changed drastically since then. Then our understanding of Imam was simply knowing that he is the present leader of the community. However, now we have started to learn more about what the Imam means and his role in the community and the world at large.
Rai Akbarbhai Makhani
78 years, Rajkot
My memory of the Diamond Jubilee celebration is distant yet fresh in my mind. Our family went to stay with relatives in Mumbai during the ceremony of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah that took place in March 1946. The whole year was celebratory and I remember seeing the maamera being taken in our jamatkhana back home, accompanied by the sounds of the dhol. It was wonderful to live through this time. Commemorative coins in silver were made and distributed to the jamat. These events also brought our community to the forefront and this recognition has increased over time on the global platform. The Ismaili community was not very widely known back then, but from the time of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah till the current Imam our identity has become well known, and a sense of recognition has been attained.
Huzur Mukhyani Roshanbai Ibrahim Rajani
85 years, Mumbai
I was on duty in my Guides uniform during the Diamond Jubilee year. My fondest memories revolve around giving service during the different events while wearing the uniform. There were so many people from across the world, it was interesting to see so many Ismailis from places that I had never visited, and some of them even looked so different from what I had always seen as they were ethnically different. I was placed for duty at the residences where all the guests were hosted. Spaces were rented out to host all the Ismailis visiting from outside and it was a wonderfully diverse experience. We used to prepare and serve food to everyone and take care of them as much as we could. Most people hosted guests at their own homes and since my family were resident in Mumbai, we had around 15 guests staying with us in our house. The Imam was very pleased with all the families that hosted people from everywhere around the world. After duty one evening, we, the volunteers, all went to see the lights that decorated Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah’s residence in Walkeshwar. Over the years, service has played an important role in our community, and the Imam and our institutions have worked hard to create the progress to bring us where we are today. My faith has increased over time and my connection with the Imam has also grown too as I’ve witnessed the community evolve.
Rai Sadruddin Hasanali Lakhani
82 years, Hyderabad
‘Aavi Jubilee, Diamond Jubilee, Jubilee na momino na mann harkhaaye….’[Jubilee has come, Diamond Jubilee has come, the disciples feel joyous…]. This special jubilee song still hums in my memory from the Diamond Jubilee year of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah when I was a young boy. We went to Mumbai by train via Nagpur city for the celebrations. It was during the British rule in India and the systems were slightly different back then. We were given residence in Wadi in Mumbai during our stay. The ceremony was held at a stadium and Imam was wearing a white Sherwani and a spectacular event followed. Most of the Ismaili neighbourhoods were lit up beautifully and later there were fireworks displayed at the Chowpatty sea front. Having the chance to be a part of another Diamond Jubilee of our current Imam makes me feel as if I have witnessed paradise and I could not be more blessed and I pray that everyone should receive the same happiness in their life.
Itmadi Hasanali Nathani
83 years, Rajkot
My father was the Mukhisaheb of Porbandar Jamatkhana and he said that when I was born, my bayah ceremony and formalised entry into our Ismaili tariqah was undertaken personally with the Imam. It was this very Imam whose Diamond Jubilee was now being celebrated in 1946 in India. I remember some parts of the event that happened in Brabourne stadium in Mumbai. Commemorative coins were minted and distributed as a token of remembrance for the Jamat. The Diamond Jubilee trust was formed during this year with the money collected and this institution went ahead to have a major impact within our community with so many schools being formed. Major progress has taken place within our Jamat and community as a whole since then. Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah laid strong foundations for numerous institutions at that time which slowly grew with time. Today we see that all these institutions have reached great heights under our current Imam, and their impact has been enormous. The world has indeed moved forward in ways that I had never imagined during the previous Jubilee and I am thrilled to have lived through this wonderful era.