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It is that time of year again, when you approach Gressenhall Road and the smell of Aloo Gosht hits you hard. Here at Jalsa Connect headquarters, we have created a nifty list of 7 signs that indicate that Jalsa is right around the corner… 

1) The Aloo Gosht diet begins (and potentially Daal). Head down to Fazl Masjid and/or Baitul Futuh to take full advantage of the two week hospitality period put on by the UK Jamaat. Even though meals are readily available from the masjid all year round, nothing tops the hospitality shown during the Jalsa period which is when the aloo gosht diet truly commences.  The Promised Messiah (as) placed much emphasis on the importance of taking care of one’s Jalsa guests and this is just one part of the overall hospitality extended to all visitors both during and around these three blessed days. This year’s hospitality period will be running from a week before Jalsa to the week after Jalsa.

2) People, People everywhere! Attempting to navigate your way through the masses of people in the masjid can be a little tricky. For the days before and after Jalsa, this quiet, suburban corner of London becomes a vibrant hub of activity, a melting pot for people from around the world and a ‘must do’ on their list of places to visit. Whether it’s for a mulaqaat, following in congregational prayers behind Huzoor or to meet members of the community, this is where it all happens. If you’re coming to attend congregational prayers at Fazl Masjid, make sure you come early enough to get a good place. The capacity at Fazl Masjid isn’t very big, so make sure you’re an early bird!

3) Say what? Head to either Baitul Futuh or Fazl Mosque during Jalsa and you may realise you don’t understand much of what is being said by those around you. Alhamdolillah, people are arriving daily from all over the world and gathering with friends and family from the community, speaking a multitude of languages from all continents. Looking to learn a new language? You will have ample chance to converse with bilinguals and polyglots, so dust off those dictionaries and swot up on those essential phrases. 

 4) Weather Watch. The last minute hunt for wellies and wet weather gear and the constant monitoring of weather in Alton can only mean one thing: Jalsa is less than a week away. With the unpredictability of British weather (we are an island nation after all!) having Jalsa in August isn’t a guarantee of good weather and sunshine. Seasoned visitors will recall the muddy occasions we have previously had, however, for those visiting for the first time (or those optimists hoping for sunshine) it is worth coming prepared for all types of weather. Alhamdolillah, the Jalsa facilities are well adapted to handle wet weather, with organisers working hard to make contingency plans if needed. However, it is still recommended for guests to come prepared for all cases! (Update: as of this weekend, it seems we should have good weather ahead, inshallah!)

5) #Jalsa #JalsaConnect #Jalsa2017 Look familiar? You may have noticed a proliferation of these #s across your social media feed in the past few weeks, be prepared for more! A sure sign that Jalsa is near is when your time line is flooded with mentions of Jalsa from visitors, hosts and those watching from afar. At Jalsa Connect, we try our best to contribute to the trend and keep you posted on all the latest updates via twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat and our website! #allbasescovered #jointheconversation 

6) Ten of everything please..You start to notice a few weeks before Jalsa, first it’s the essentials like toilet roll & hand wash, then it’s pillows, duvets, towels and then food. Lots of food. That’s right. the great stockpile has officially kicked off. With a large number of local people accommodating Jalsa guests in their own homes during Jalsa, taking care of their every need and ensuring comfort becomes a vital task, one that requires extras of everything, but above all a big heart (as my mum always says “dil bara hona chahiye” – you must have a big heart). Whether it’s relatives from abroad, close friends or acquaintances made at Jalsas past, there is no shortage of people who are appreciative of the hospitality offered by locals living in London and the surrounding areas during this period. 

If you’re struggling to find storage for all your extra goods imagine how much space all the necessities brought in for thousands of guests at Baitul Futuh and other sites must take up!! 

7) 24/7 Way of life: Night rolls into day, day rolls into night. You have no concept of time, you just know it needs to be done. This is the reality for hundreds of volunteers working around the clock to make sure everything is ready to go. You may have seen them walking by, sleep deprived yet invigorated by the challenge and opportunity they have. In fact, this isn’t just a last minute effort, plans for the next Jalsa literally kick off following the end of each Jalsa. As you pack up your belongings and say Khuda Hafiz to friends new and old at the end of Jalsa, our minds are already on #Jalsa2018.