Compiled and prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

In recent years, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, has received numerous honours from the Government and institutions of learning in Portugal. During his Diamond Jubilee visit to Portugal he established his Seat of Imamat in Lisbon, and declared on the morning of July 11, 2018, his 61st Imamat anniversary, that it be known as the Diwan of the Ismaili Imamat. A darbar later in the afternoon was attended by more than 45,000 Ismailis from around the world, thus completing his Diamond Jubilee Year.

The Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator

Little is it known that Mawlana Hazar Imam was decorated by the Government of Portugal during his visit to Goa in October 1960, when Goa was still a Portuguese colony. India annexed Goa in December 1961, along with two other Portuguese territories of Daman and Diu in the Indian sub-continent. [1]

In going through the archives of my late dad, Jehangir Merchant, who passed away on May 27, 2018, I came across the complete English edition of a well preserved Goan newspaper called Heraldo. It is dated Monday, October 31, 1960 and records the honour of the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator that was bestowed on Mawlana Hazar Imam on October 27, as well as a detailed 2-page report of his visit.

Aga Khan in Goa Heraldo October 31, 1960, Simerg and Barakah
Report and a photograph of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Goa in the English edition of Heraldo dated October 31, 1960. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Archives.
Report on page 3 of Heraldo, dated October 31, 1960. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Archives.

Heraldo reported as follows on page 3 (see image, above):

“At a reception held at Cabo Palace in the night of October 27, His Excellency the Governor General [of Portuguese India], General Vassalo de Silva, decorated Prince Karim Aga Khan IV with the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator, which has been conferred on His Royal Highness by the Portuguese Government.

“In this connection, it is recalled that the family of the Aga Khan, notably his grandfather, and father, always showed friendly sentiments towards Portugal. When the late Prince Aly Khan [d. May 12, 1960], Prince Karim’s father, visited Lisbon he told journalists: ‘I have great admiration for the Portuguese and for Portugal’s mission in the world. I have no less admiration for your Prime Minister, whom I consider an extraordinary man in our age of vanity and subtleties. The whole world knows him’. He added, ‘Portugal is a beautiful country with pleasant and hospitable people’.”

The newspaper then continues:

“These sentiments have now been confirmed by Prince Karim, who very early in his career, visited Portugal in Goa. The Government of the Nation, in its turn, expressed appreciation of the Prince’s gesture by awarding him the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry.”

The Order of Prince Henry was a Portuguese order of knighthood that was created a few months earlier, on 2 June 1960, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator, one of the main initiators of the Age of Discovery.

His Highness the Aga Khan on being conferred with the Keys to the City of Porto

“I am going to use these keys to open as many doors as possible. Doors to happiness, doors to peace, doors to unity, doors to human progress.”

Mayor Rui Moreira presents the Keys of the City of Porto to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Simerg and Barakah
Mayor Rui Moreira presents the Keys of the City of Porto to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: The Ismaili / 4SEE.

Almost 59 years after being knighted with The Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry, Mawlana Hazar Imam was conferred on May 2, 2019 with the keys of the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto. In response to the honour, he said:

“I also want to thank you for the keys of this magnificent city. This is an old, historic tradition that has existed in many countries in many parts of the world,” and then Mawlana Hazar Imam made the following inspiring remarks, “but I am going to use these keys to open as many doors as possible. Doors to happiness, doors to peace, doors to unity, doors to human progress. So I thank you, and I treasure those keys very much indeed. And I will not make copies of them.”

Date posted: November 17, 2019.

Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 180 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, his family and the Ismaili Imamat.

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Notes:

[1] For a background of Ismaili settlement in Daman, please read Toral Pradhan’s excellent and highly informative piece on Barakah’s sister website Simerg.

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