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Ismaili History 834 - Jubilee celebrations

Donning the mantle of Imamate in 1302/1885, the Aga Khan III had completed 50 years of his spiritual leadership in 1935. His devoted followers, long looking forward to the auspicious day, got feverishly busy to pay a memorable tribute to their Imam, who had so happily guided their destinies through all these years, knit them into a progressive community, and taken them to enviable heights of moral and material glory. Hence, the Ismailis decided that the Golden Jubilee of their Imam should be fitly celebrated by weighing him against gold, and making a present of the gold to him as a mark of their love and gratitude. Bombay was the venue for the Golden Jubilee in India in 1936, and to this great city flocked the Ismailis from all over the subcontinent, from Burma, Ceylon, Malaya, Africa and the Middle East. Finally, on January 19, 1936, the Golden Jubilee of the Aga Khan was celebrated with great pomp at Hasanabad in Bombay, where a crowd of over 30,000 Ismailis was thronged. Among the special guests who also attended were a number of ruling princes, leading government officials, judges of the High Court, foreign diplomats, business magnates, and the elites of the city. His Excellency the Governor performed the ceremony of weighing. The total weight of the Aga Khan III was found to be 3200 ounces valued at about 23,000 British pounds. In sum, the Golden Jubilee was a splendid and memorable occasion in the life of the community. It was most impressive and picturesque ceremony, simple in its nature, but a rare novelty in the life of many a man. The second Golden Jubilee was celebrated on March 1, 1937 at Nairobi amid extraordinary jubilations and scenes of enthusiasm. Once more the precious metal was presented to the Aga Khan III by his followers as a token of their love and affection, and once more it was given back to them with his blessings. Some 30,000 Ismailis had assembled to receive his blessings on his jubilee.
Sixty years of his benevolent rule as spiritual father gave his grateful community a chance to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of his Imamate by weighing him against diamonds. In a special message to the community in January 14, 1946, the Aga Khan III said: 'This unique occasion should be for my spiritual children all over the world a starting point in the heart and conscience of each and every one to further know, understand and obey the history and spiritual doctrines of the Ismaili faith.' The first Diamond Jubilee was held on March 10, 1946 in Brabourne Stadium at Bombay. Over 100,000 Ismailis from various parts of the world had come to see this magnificient spectacle unusual event for Bombay which had witnessed many a scene of pomp and glory. The huge multitude present at the ceremony included fourteen ruling princes, among them the Maharajahs of Kashmir and Baroda and the Jam Saheb of Nawanagar. There were messages of goodwill from King Farouk of Egypt, the King of Afghanistan, the Shah of Iran and other world personalities including Mr. Gandhi. The value of the diamonds was 640,000 British pounds.

The second Diamond Jubilee had been celebrated in the sports ground of the Aga Khan Club at Dar-es-Salaam on August 9, 1946. It was attended by 70,000 Ismailis, including the governors of Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda. This time the value of the diamonds was 684,000 British pounds. The sum value of the diamonds at each place was again an absolute gift to the Imam from his jubilant followers. This vast sum was again invested by him in a trust meant to enrich the life of the community in the educational and commercial spheres

The platinum jubilee celebration, marking the 70th anniversary of the Imamate of the Aga Khan III was festivated at Karachi with great pomp on February 3, 1954. The celebration culminated in the weighing of the Imam against platinum. On the day of the ceremony, the specially built stadium was packed with 60,000 people, and all the roads leading to it were filled with crowds who could not gain admittance. After the recitation from the Holy Koran, the Aga Khan rose and raised his hands in prayer before resuming his seat. The funds collected at the celebration was used for the implementation of multi-purpose socio-economic projects.

In an article entitled, 'The Aga Khan: from Curzon to Hitler, A Man always at the Centre of History,' Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan writes, 'For my father, education was understandably a priority and his community exemplifies the success of his policies. Ismaili men and women, the latter among the first to shed the veil, are well equipped in this respect. Ismaili institutions have provided a network of social, economic and cultural amenities which are unrivalled in many developing countries. These were made possible to a great extent by the wise administration of funds raised in connection with the traditional jubilee weighing ceremonies.' (vide 'The Times' newspaper, November 5, 1977)


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