Friday, October 08, 2004

Community

Jamaat- the simple translation would be community. Chicago is my home, and I like to think I’ll always be a part of the Chicago jamaat.

But here, in Bangkok, I belong to a new jamaat, and this one is markedly different from any I’ve been in before. First it’s not Indian. It’s 3 or 4 generations Thai. The first language here is Thai. The people are Thai. The food is Thai. From it’s inception 120 years ago, this jamaat has flowered in seeming isolation from the global community. There is a translation of the majalis in Thai, and they even pay homage to the royal family of Thailand at each function.

It’s very different, but when you walk in the masjid, it’s still unmistakably Bohra. And though it’s like any other Bohra experience I’ve had before, I’ve gotten a sense of community that I feel should be at the heart of any jamaat.

One difference is that the Amil doesn’t sit on a thakat, many feet off the ground, rather only a few inches at the audience’s level. During Vaas, the Amil asks questions, takes jamaat member’s names…talks to rather than at.

I am a new member and am not privy to many of the unspoken obligations and gossip and history and hierarchy that goes along with being a part of any social or cultural organization which is quite possibly just below the surface. From this distance, however, it feels how a community should…like a family (I know this must be a slight exaggeration, but that’s how I feel right now)

1 comment:

john said...

While this response doesn't apply specifically to this particular post, it's somewhat appropriate to the extent that it is about a world very foreign to my own. In any event, I'm now up to date with comments that you e-mailed me directly and your blog postings. Again, your experiences are something I can read about, but they sound so surreal and so different from anything that I have in my own history, that I can't begin to get my arms around them, despite the fine descriptions from you and those on l'attitude. It is literally a different world out there. Thousands of different worlds. While I consider myself an intelligent individual with some sense of the world, it is so firmly rooted in my limited specific experiences (I suppose everyone's view is to a degree) and in all things of the western world. You've mentioned reverence for a king and queen -- In this day and age?! I'm blown away and I know nothing. In the coming years I hope to impart knowledge on and share experiences with my two boys, but it certainly will not include trips to Thailand or the Amazon. More likely it will include trips to Greece, possibly other western European countries, and travels throughout the US. In my own lifetime plans, I've never really considered Asia, the Middle East, or Africa. So much for a world view. Even if I did, it is years and years away. So, in the meantime, I'll continue to get my perspective from reading, the news, the movies and through vicarious adventures of others.