Memorable and Moving Mehfil-e-Milad
By Iraj Siddiqi


Pictures above: Glimpses of the Mehfil-e-Milad at the Shalimar Garden Restaurant

Upon entering Shalimar Garden on the evening of Saturday, February 16, guests were thrown head first into a realm of serenity. Flower arrangements adorned the beautiful banquet hall from the entrance, to the stage, to every corner of the hall. The brightly illuminated room was filled with a wide array of lively guests who had traveled from various cities of California and nearby states. The ambiance was truly spectacular. Mingling guests enjoyed deli cious appetizers as they whispered amongst themselves about the grandeur that surrounded them. As the audience began to take their seats - taking advantage of the well thought out setup including theaterstyle seating, scattered tables, as well as floor seating decorated with traditional rugs and cushions -emcee Iraj Siddiqi announced the start of the Mehfil-e-Milad ceremony. Generous and kind-hearted sponsor of the night, Dr. Meher Tabatabi, next took the stage to thank the renowned naath-khwan of the night as well as Shalimar Garden's Roohi and Rashid Siddiqi for their efforts in putting together such a beautiful evening. She also advocated support of the restaurant to all those in attendance. Then the audience became witness to the main guest of the evening. Pakistan's first female naath-khwan and recipient of various prestigious awards from PTV, the government of Pakistan, and others, delicately walked on stage and brought with her a state of splendor. She began by reciting tilawat-e-Qu'ran, proceeded with humd-o-sana, and then began to share her series of beautiful, world-famous naaths. Despite being widely-listened to, the audience was breath-taken the moment Umme Habiba began to recite her naath in person. She recited for hours and the audience became lost in her words. Several were spotted to be moved to tears. Upon conclusion of a touching salaam, the hall was quickly transformed by efficient staff into banquet style seating for the delicious dinner that was served. The guests of this very well-attended event remained in the hall following the conclusion of dinner for a long time in order to get a chance to take a picture or share some words with this renowned figure. Guests reluctantly left Shalimar Garden that night consoling themselves with thoughts of a memorable, spiritual night embedded in their hearts.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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