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Jalsa Stories – Roti

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

My dad was telling my daughter and I about Jalsa Salana in Rabwah and how the last Jalsa there had an attendance of 275,000 people, making our Jalsa in the UK seem tiny by comparison. Imagine cooking food for that many people, my dad laughed, imagine the number of rotis that were made!

He recalled a Jalsa in the mid-seventies when the rotis were made by non-Ahmadis from areas surrounding Rabwah rather than Ahmadi volunteers. It had reached Jalsa time and some people trying to make trouble told the roti makers to demand more money at this last moment or refuse to make the rotis assuming the Jamaat would give in because the Jalsa guests had already arrived in Rabwah and needed feeding.

Jamaat officials seeing no way around this difficulty thought it might be best to give in to their demands on this last minute occasion but Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III, told them not to. He advised that every household in Rabwah should be asked to help by making rotis and at this last moment the ingredients were sent around to homes and the members of the community answered the call and made rotis to feed the guests!

This reminded my mum and I about an incident during the nineties when Jalsa UK was held at Islamabad. Early on the morning of the final day we got a call that the roti plant had broken down and a lot of dough was already mixed so rotis could be made for lunch. All the households in Islamabad jamaat including those in Aldershot were asked to take dough and make rotis. The large plastic bowls of dough were distributed and we began making rotis.

Both my parents and I had houses full of guests from abroad and most had already gone to Jalsa for the congregational pledge. One of my cousins came to help me and her sister remained with my mum and we spent the whole morning listening to Jalsa on MTA while making rotis.

Finally we had two large crates filled with round, soft naan-like bread which we were then able to transport to Islamabad in time for lunch. By then the roti plant was working once more so our rotis joined those to feed the thousands of Jalsa guests. Just as the families of Rabwah had answered the call to serve the jamaat so now had the families of Islamabad been given the opportunity to do so.

It was a hot, frantic, arm-aching morning but so fulfilling and one which will always stand out among our memories of Jalsa.

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