“And I need everything by the morning of July 10. Is this possible?” the volunteer nervously asked the florist. The florist looked at her warily, not taking the order lightly.
Some of the flowers ordered were rare, and a difficult feat for any vendor in the entire Los Angeles Flower Market to fulfil. There were 29 bunches of spider mums, 57 bunches of bells of Ireland, 95 bunches of white hydrangeas, and the list went on. The florist and volunteer went back and forth in negotiations; at last, the volunteer wiped her brow, flashed a charming smile, and shook hands with the vendor. An agreement was made and it was finally time to put months of pre-planning into effect.
The floral team volunteers from the Greater Los Angeles Jamatkhanas began thinking about flowers, colors, and arrangements in May, anxiously crossing off days and preparing every small floral detail for the Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee.
The team leads met face-to-face and sat in on numerous calls for nearly 12 weeks to discuss the flower arrangements that the entire Jamat of Greater Los Angeles and neighboring districts would experience once they walked into the Pasadena Convention Center. They wanted the Jamat to be greeted with the refreshingly subtle scents of hydrangeas and roses, all while staying in the theme of green and white, the same Diamond Jubilee color scheme across oceans in London, Dushanbe, Karachi, and beyond.
Considerable time was spent designing arrangements, bringing in volunteers with years of expertise in florals to fashion a centerpiece that could inspire. They thought long and hard about what would leave the Jamat breathless in appreciation of this unique Imamat Day.
Team leads started their days at 5:00 a.m., knowing they would not be able to hit pause until later that night. The flowers were retrieved and delicately transported to Pasadena, where the remaining floral team anxiously waited. The Convention Center, like an empty warehouse, was only hours away from a full transformation into a floral palace.
A focused assembly line of 35 volunteers arrived for duty and five stations were formed: “The Cutters” threw out thorns and stems; “The Roses” arranged the white roses in the centerpieces; “The Greens” kept track of every green flower; “The Arrangers” prepared the hydrangeas and ensured all flowers were in place; and finally, “The Curly Things”, a team coincidently comprised of two curly-haired girls, tasked with sticking sparkly, silver wires into the arrangement.
When night fell, the team finished the green and white centerpieces. They wiped their hands clean, silver specks from the curly things circling around them like magic, all unable to control the excitement the next day would bring. A floral team with murids from Greater Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas, meeting for the first time and coming together, like the green and white flowers from different floral families. Ninety-two centerpieces, thirty-five volunteers, one Jamat.