With less than 50 days until the Jubilee Games, the Global Fanous Roadshow is well underway.
The fanous — Arabic for ‘lantern’ — is rich in historic symbolism and meaning for both Ismailis and the wider ummah. It is said that when the Fatimid Imam-caliph Mawlana al-Mu'izz entered the newly-built city of al-Qahira (Cairo) for the first time on 23 July 969 (5 Ramadan 358 AH), the citizens lining the streets to greet him illuminated his entrance by holding lanterns made of palm leaves and animal skins, producing a beautiful dance of light. It is thus that the fanous became a symbol of the transfer of the seat of the Fatimids from al-Mahdiya in Tunisia to the new capital in Egypt.
In Cairo, Dubai and many other cities of the Muslim world, lanterns hold an enduring association with Ramadan. They are used to decorate homes, mosques, markets, and other public spaces as a reminder of the enlightenment received during the month in which the Qur'an was first revealed.
The Fanous of the 2016 Jubilee Games is a long, slender lantern that sits on a polished silver base. It is decorated with an intricate geometric pattern that delicately filters the light as it shines through. The Jubilee Games logo is incorporated at its top, and when the Fanous is lit, it radiates in shades of blue.
Each jurisdiction represented at the Games has received its own Fanous, which will visit Jamats in many cities during the course of the Global Fanous Roadshow. Local athletes serving as Fanous-bearers will run with the lanterns in relays, each passing the Fanous on to the next runner as a symbol of their shared journey.
The Jubilee Games fawanees (plural of ‘fanous’) from all over the world are destined for Dubai, where they will be used at the Opening Ceremony to light a central Fanous, representing the unity of the global Ismaili community.
Click below to see photographs and watch videos from the Global Fanous Roadshow in different cities and countries.