Rang-e-Henna at the Ismaili Centre Dubai


Communal festivals are usually a time of traditional rituals, as well as the sights, sounds and colors that signify happiness and rejoicing.  In the vein of anticipation and celebration, the Ismaili Centre Dubai hosted Rang-e-Henna, for the UAE Jamat on 9 July, 2017 in the Social Hall.

The occasion commenced with the traditional mamerah, or mamero, ceremony followed by raas, garba, henna application, dinner and the One Jamat dance.  Mamerah is a Gujarati word, and the ceremony is associated with wedding, where the bride’s or groom’s maternal uncle brings wedding gifts for his niece and nephew. 

Explaining the tradition of Mamerah ceremony which was the highlight of the evening, Naureen Shehzad, one of the event organizers, said:  "Mamerah comes from the South Asian culture, and is usually observed on a highly symbolic and festive occasion like a wedding.  The Diamond Jubilee is a very special and significant occasion for all of us, so it is appropriate to have a Mamerah.  The Mehendi ceremony also signifies a happy occasion, where women apply henna when they are celebrating happy events. We usually have a mehendi ceremony during our communal celebrations and family occasions, such as weddings.  Henna is a symbol of happiness.  With these two ceremonies, we are marking a historic milestone, and this evening brings us together as a community.”

As a sign of respect and deference, the Mamerah procession, which started under the central dome of the Ismaili Centre, was led by leaders of the Jamat, as well as elderly female members of the Jamat. Other Jamati leaders, including members of the National Council, also led the procession.  They carried a number of symbolic items, such as trays laden with mehendi, fruits, sweets, milk, laapsi (a traditional sweet made of broken wheat, milk, sugar and nuts, usually served on festive occasions).  Flowers and Shawls also adorned the trays, and all these served as an offering to the Imam.

The procession was escorted to the Social Hall by the Aga Khan Scouts and Guides band, as well as the Cubs and Brownies, as the Jamat followed the procession with much joy and delight.

Rang-e-Henna also saw the Aga Khan Orchestra play their newly composed Diamond Jubilee music as community members performed the traditional Garba and Raas.

The advent of the Diamond Jubilee has been celebrated by every Jamat in its own unique way, and the Dubai Jamat also celebrated in the traditional style of Gujarat, going back to the South Asian roots of the Jamat settled in Dubai.   "I felt extremely happy and overjoyed to be a part of the Rang-e-Henna ceremony and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations with my Jamat. It is an occasion that will be remembered and cherished forever," concluded Hira Ahmed, member of the Dubai Jamat.  No doubt, this event will long remain a part of the communal memory of the Dubai Jamat for many years to come.