More than 12,000 Dawoodi Bohra women from around the world contributed to the production of a large shamiana to cover Devdi Mubarak, a historic street in the heart of Surat, Gujarat, where the first campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, among other buildings of great significance to the Bohra community, such as the ancestral home of His Holiness and the mausoleums of past community leaders are located. The shamiana was stitched together from 3160 individual square pieces out of which 2860 were handiwork on fabric and 300 were crocheted.

The shamiana was installed to provide shade during the occasion of the annual examinations of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, which is attended by thousands of community members. From design to the production of each individual square and ultimately stitching together the entire shamiana was a project which spanned 3 months.

Many women painted intricate designs onto their squares while others did ornate handwork to add to the overall beauty of the canopy. Munira, from the organising team said, ‘It was an opportunity for women from the community to display their talents as designers and artists. It brought them together and created a festive mood.’

The Shamiana Project was part of the community’s Happy Threads initiative; an organisation of Dawoodi Bohra women which aims to provide skilled female artisans from within the community with the means and opportunities to harness their skills more productively.