The annual Bohra Conference commenced last Sunday, 1 September, with an estimated 21,000 participants from 40 countries, under the theme “We Believe in Sri Lanka”.

A 10-day conference, the event is held at the Bohra Muslim Mosque, Colombo 4.

Speaking to Anjuman E Saifee Vice President Khuzaima Jafferjee, he said it has been 12 years since Sri Lanka last hosted the event, and the aim of this year’s event is to strengthen the peace and trust between Sri Lankan religious groups and people of all communities, also adding: “We hope to tell the world that Sri Lanka is a good country for tourism and trade.”

Khuzaima spoke of how the event, as is widely misconstrued, isn’t a celebration – it is a time of mourning. “It is the 10-day mourning period of the slaughter of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Muhsin ibn Ali,” he said. When asked about why and how Sri Lanka managed to win the bid over India and Nairobi whom were both strong in the running to host this year, he said: “His holiness wanted to bring peace to this country again; he is an ambassador of peace and goodwill.”

He pointed out that the last two times His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin visited, during peak LTTE times, the violence came to a halt six months after. And so, he said that His Holiness prayed to bring peace to the island and hopes to bless this country again.

It is important to note that the gathering is a significant moment for the island, particularly in this timeline where just only a few months prior, we suffered a major blow to our foundation.

The participants of the gathering have booked all the major hotels from Kalutara to Negombo and from Avissawella to Nittambuwa, and the summit is expected to generate $ 130 million for the country.

There is also an impressive green intuitive adopted by this year’s gathering, which was successfully executed last year in India.

This zero-waste initiative is the first-ever carbon neutral project of this scale in Sri Lanka where there will be funds generated – collected from the participants of the community to be reinvested into our country and used to plant trees in Sinharaja Rainforest.

And, most importantly, the Bohra community gathering here in 2019 will be 21,000 goodwill ambassadors going back to 40 countries to spread the message of how Sri Lanka is safe once again to travel, taking their experience with them.