Thousands of Ismailis from across Pakistan and around the world have returned to their homes in various parts of Gilgit – Baltistan, or are on their way, to celebrate Imamat Day of their spiritual leader, on 11th July.
Shah Karim Al – Hussaini Aga Khan IV had succeded his grand father, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III, as 49th hereditary Imam of the world’s Shia Isamili Muslims, on 11th July 1957 . Every year the Ismailis celebrate this day with great enthusiasm and spiritual happniess across the world.
In our part of the world 11th July has become a magnetic event that attracts migrant Ismaili population of the region from across the country and around the world.
The migrant population of Gilgit – Baltistan has increased considerably as a growing number of students, professionals andlaborers, and in some cases their families, are shifting to urban centers of the country and the world in pursuit of education, work and better opportunities. Majority of the migrant population consists of young studetns and professionals who can’t visit their parents and homes due to education, work or both.
In the month of July the Ismaili villages of Gilgit – Baltistan, like Sultanabad (Yasin), Singal (Punial), Oshikandas (Gilgit), Aliabad and Karimabad (Hunza), Gulmit & Passu (Gojal) and Rahimabad (Shinaki) reflect popular urban cultures, as the number of “Shehri Parinday”- roughly translated as “city birds”, as some wittingly call them, increases in the region. At times I also feel like flying to the mountains, because I am also one of the “city birds”.
By 15 July, every year, people start returning to their jobs and education, with a renewed desire to return to the beautiful mountains in their hearts.