For many Jamati members, it wasn’t possible to spend Diamond Jubilee with their families, but when you’re One Jamat, family is never far away. 

The Northeast Region is home to Jamati members coming from diverse backgrounds and family structures. While some live with traditional nuclear families of parents and children (and perhaps grandparents), others are students or professionals living far away home. Many of us wanted to attend the auspicious homage ceremony and Diamond Jubilee kickoff with family. And for many  in the Northeast, “family” is defined in a slightly different way. In many cases, our Jamat is our family. Let’s meet some Northeast Jamati members, and the “family” that supports them.
Kambiz Mahdavi is a confident, friendly, 45-year-old man. His family, originally from Iran, now lives in Richmond, Virginia. “My nine-year old son was born in Iran, but my five-year old daughter is made in the USA!” jokes Kambiz’s wife, Monireh Majidi. All four sit around a big white table with Kambiz and Moneireh’s parents, both close to 70-years-old. While Monireh and her mother had managed to attend Golden Jubilee Darbars in Dubai and Syria respectively, this Jubilee is their first together as a family. When asked how it felt to be together as a family for Diamond Jubilee, Kambiz’s face lightens up with smile that spreads to the lines in the corners of his eyes, “It’s been amazing,” he says, simply. 
Reema Tharani drove to the Philadelphia with her fiancé, Priya, and younger brother, Karim. The three live together in Queens, not far from NYHQ Jamatkhana. When Karim graduated from high school earlier this summer, it was Priya who sent pictures to his mother, who remains in Uganda. Though Priya is non-Ismaili, she wanted to share the occasion with her family, Reema and Karim. “I told her it’s really important to me that she be there,” Reema says. “I asked her to take the day off, and we made a road trip out of it. It’s been a while since we went on a drive—just the three of us.”
Nearby, Saqib Gowani, 33, sits at another table with his parents, Sikandar, age 65, and Naseem, 64. All three currently reside in Hartford, Connecticut. They speak about their experience at Golden Jubilee: “It was very different because we were in Pakistan,” Naseem said. “It is more organized here.” Saqib agrees, adding, “The transportation is exceptional. My mother arrived in Philly before me, on a plane from Dallas after a medical procedure. The next thing I know, there were volunteers at the airport helping her with the wheelchair and everything. The resources that people can put into the Jubilee are different, but the spirit is the same.” 
Afzal Somani and Sahare Wazirali aren’t relatives, but they belong to a nation-wide family of a different sort—they attended the same Al-Ummah camp several years ago. At the time, Afzal was Sahare’s counselor. To a casual observer, they appear to be around the same age. But Afzal very much sounds like a mentor as he shares tips about Washington, D.C. (both now live in the greater metro area) and encourages Sahare to get involved in Al-Ummah as a counselor. 
These kinds of relationships can mean a lot to college students or young professionals getting settled in a new city. Our Jamatkhanas in the Northeast tend to be smaller than in other regions, and this likely helps contribute to the family feel of these tight-knit communities. For some, their relationships with fellow Jamati members take on a depth that is as close as family. Many young professionals could not travel to their familial homes due to work constraints, but were delighted to find time to attend the celebrations in Philadelphia. Others chose to celebrate with their Northeast Jamati family. One volunteer confessed, “My parents asked me to join them in Paris, but I said I would rather celebrate here in Philadelphia, where I can serve my Jamat.” For this young woman, the joint event brought together her non-biological family from up and down the East Coast, “I have my New York family and my Boston family and this event helps me reconnect with all of them!”
It’s endearing to see our One Jamat come together in a variety of different ways, and we hope that the Diamond Jubilee year will offer us more opportunities to come together as a global Jamat, strengthening our familial bonds and perhaps discovering some new versions of them all together!