The flags waved and the colours of His Highness -green and red-draped the buildings. For hours before the event the procession passed through the streets of Bombay to the Stadium to await the arrival, first of all, of the high notabilities and personalities who had come to pay homage and to look upon the magnificent spectacle, and then at 5.15 the Aga Khan with his retinue preceded by Her Highness the Begum, wearng a 45,000 pound diamond studded sari, gems glittering in the gorgeous sunlight, strode into the Arena, mounted the platform and took his place.
One by one the caskets of diamonds were raised on high and shown to the public, then placed on the scales. The scales tipped when 243-1/2 lbs. weight of diamonds were so placed. These diamonds were worth hundreds of thousands of pounds-a gift to His Highness from his many followers in India. His Highness received the gift and in his turn returned it, adding his blessing and his advice that the large sum of money should be used for the betterment of his followers.
Later that night, a magnificent display of fireworks was given at the sea-front.
The celebrations lasted 10 days, opening with a ceremony in which Her Highness the Begum, accompanied by Lady Battershill, cut the tape at the official opening of the Jubilee Exhibition Park.
The Exhibition was divided into two parts. Its main purpose was to reflect the work and activities of the community in colourful displays. There were pavilions devoted to the showing of examples of fine needlework and other forms of local craftsmanship, including paintings, woodwork and toy-making. Other pavilions concentrated upon such subjects as -- health, hygiene, child welfare and domestic science, and others again to Scout and Girl Guide displays. All this was designed for the upliftment of the community and was accompanied by talks and lectures on the various subjects. It was in the Exhibition Theatre that His Highness delivered the speech of "World peace and its problems" which created such an impression in the world press.
The lighter side of the Exhibition took on the features of a grand country fair. Here there were side shows and merry-go-rounds to delight the young and to entertain the old, from the miniature railway from South Africa to the small menagerie of wild animals.
One day was given over to a large scale procession, portraying the history and activities of the Ismailis. Decorated floats, and companies of young and old, representing various activities, passed along the route hour after hour and made a colourful spectacle in which rich gowns of the title-holders and uniforms blended in a galaxy of colour and light. This day culminated in a brilliant firework display which lit the sky and in which His Highness' colours, green and red, predominated.
Hundreds of marriages were performed during the festivities, new friendships made, old friendships renewed, adding to the gaiety and fellowship of the celebrations.
Two grand Durbars were held, reminiscent of ancient ceremonies and adorned in the rich panoplies of the traditional past. High titles were conferred by His Highness and several Vaziers were created, one of them being Alllbhai V. Keshavjee of Pretoria, many Allijahs and Hazur Mukhis.
An interesting departure from the usual was the honour conferred upon one of the youngest of the Aga Khan's followers. A little boy of some 18 months, by name Farouk, son of Habib V. Keshavjee, who had come in for some attention from His Highness in South Africa, was brought forward and introduced to the large assembly of people as the ideal child in health and physique. It is interesting to note that this little boy had been brought up under the instruction of H.H. Aga Khan Welfare Clinic in Pretoria, which follows advice given by His Highness on health. A special stall was erected for the boy, whose mother found a ready audience of other mothers to hear her talk.
When the time came for the chief ceremony, a great cheer rose from the gathering and resounded beyond the confines of the city. It was indeed a brilliant spectacle under the tropical blue sky; coconut palms and flowering trees formed a background to the colour and magnificence of the participants in the ceremony. At least 70,000 people were present, representing every race, and creed of the community. Many important personages were there to witness the occasion. There were governors and their wives, representatives of the Crown and diplomatic corps, and other distinguished personalities.
Prince Sadruddin, H.H. the Aga Khan's younger son, in his silken tunic and richly decorated turban, walked at the side of Her Highness the Begum, who wore a sari studded with 1,500 diamonds. Prince Ali Khan, who had flown specially from Europe for the occasion, and who is the heir to the Imamate, received a special sign of the people's affection for his qualities of leadership already displayed in war services and peaceful attainment.
The moment arrived for His Highness to mount the platform and take his seat on the huge scales. After a recitation of extracts from the Quran by Missionaries Gulamali and Varas Merali Ramji, a speech on the Imamat and Holy Ismaili Religion was given by Mr. W. Dharsee. The first boxes of diamonds were placed on the scales by those who had contributed the highest amounts. First came Vazir Kassam Jivraj, then Count Kassum Sunderji Samji, Vazir Abdulla Hassam Gangji, Vazir Hassim Kasim of Kampala, Vazir Eboo and Mrs. Vazier M. S. Verjee. Following this there were presentations by school children, bearing banners from all the African territories, including East African territories, Madagascar and South Africa. After them came the Scouts and Guides and then the individual gifts to Her Highness the Begum.
At the conclusion of this part of the ceremony, His Highness addressed the vast assembly. In his speech he offered thanks to all those who had made the occasion such a success, to the many thousands who had come from afar to pay their respects to the Governors and the Governments of the various territories. Among other things he said:
"These celebrations if looked upon as mere glorification or only as a thanksgiving for my 60 vears of Imamat, would not be worth the enormous discomfort, expense and sacrifice they have entailed for some 50,000 people.
"No, but it has given me the opprtunity for which I have been waiting for at least ten years, to carry out a fundamental change in the economic sphere of the lives of all my spiritual children. For the last ten years I have realised that the good old ways of life in all its material forms if persisted in would lead to an inevitable downward trend for all Ismailis.”
"But this is not an ordinary investment trust such as you find in the City of London. While a considerable part of its capital must be used for investment in the ordinary sense of the term, a greater part goes to the building up of a totally new financial outlook among the Ismailis. Co-operative Societies, Corporations, and, I hope and believe very soon, Building Societies, too, will draw from the Investment Trust sums equal to their capital but at a level rate of three per cent, and they are not allowed to charge more than six per cent under any conditions from their borrowers.
"These corporations and co-operatives and building societies will in future be the centres from which, side by side with the individual effort, organised advance will be made.
"After long reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the very best use that I can make of it is that after the expenses of these celebrations, in the wider sense of the word, have been paid for, then the whole of the residue must be given as an absolute gift to the Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust.
"Now one word, if I may be allowed to say it, of general advice to inhabitants here, whatever their race, colour or creed.
"I have had some experience of the causes of strife and I was a very active member of the League of Nations and of the Disarmament Conference for some seven years. Why did it fail? Ultimately because of hate. And yet why did people hate each other? Fear. Where there is fear there is no love, but hate easily enters through the windows even if the door is shut.
"I appeal to all of you, Africans, Europeans and Indians-do not fear each other. Work together. The country is big enough. There is virgin soil which has hardly been scratched. Unlike China, India and Europe, the population is still very small. We have no need to struggle for existence here for a century at least, so why create trouble for your great- grandchildren. There should be none. Thanks to atom bomb and the progress of knowledge and science, and if things take a turn for good instead of evil, then the new forces of nature, we are certain, will make human relations easier and give each and all security.
“To-day, strife here on racial lines is imaginary. The onlooker sees most of the game, and I have been here an onlooker. There is no getting away from it-if you will throw fear out of your minds and you will soon realise that white, black and brown are complementary members of a common body politic.”
Click here for Speeches from 1981 - todate
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