Representatives of the Ismaili community of the Lower Mainland welcomed a group from the North Vancouver Region to the Burnaby Ismaili Centre on Sunday, April 12. Beginning in the courtyard - designed to reflect the beauty and tranquility of paradise - we were led slowly around its pathways, under spring blossoms, the sound of a fountain drowning out the noise of traffic on nearby Canada Way. We entered the Centre and Jamatkhana through architect Bruno Freschi's massive archway, faced with Carrara marble and flanked by sandstone walls. Our volunteer guide took us through the three floors of the Centre, with its rooms for community gatherings, administration and education. The simplicity and symmetry of the architecture are striking - engineers among us marvelled at the concrete construction. The calligraphic decorations on walls, doors and windows are complemented and softened by kilim rugs hanging in the stairwells and meeting areas.
We were served a wonderful hot lunch; then Dr. Omar Kassam spoke to us about the traditions and beliefs of Shi'a Ismaili Muslims, their spiritual practices and their practical engagement with the world. Our visit ended with time in the prayer hall, the centre of Ismaili life. We came away with gratitude for the hospitality we had been shown, and a deepened understanding of our Ismaili neighbours.
1. Spring Blossoms
2. Spring blossoms seen through the decorated windows
3. Kilim rug
4. The group from the North Vancouver Deanery and their hostsunder the Bruno Freschi archway
Photos by Wilna Parry