Dubai: Indian expat enters Guinness World Record bid for largest origami swan, pays tribute to India, UAE, Japan

Jamila Navagharwala uses Japanese art form to make a swan — a symbol of peace — with 10,593 paper craft work items


Joydeep Sengupta

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Sun 15 Jan 2023, 6:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 Jan 2023, 11:59 AM

Dubai is no stranger to entering the Guinness World Record books for its enthusiastic residents’ unalloyed joy in creating all kinds of origami craft work in the globe, even though the Japanese art form is yet to gain mass appeal (see box).

Indian expatriate, Jamila Navagharwala, a member of the close-knit Dawoodi Bohra Community in the UAE, who relocated from Mumbai to Dubai in 2019, followed in those illustrious footsteps on Sunday to make a stellar bid to enter the Guinness World Record.

She made 10,593 swans at the 14-acre state-of-the-art campus of Amity School Dubai in Al Qusais-1. The swan is considered to be a symbol of peace, much like the conventional crane that adorns the origami art form.

Her significant other Aliasgar Navagharwala, two origami experts who doubled up as witnesses for the Guinness World Record authorities, and 10 volunteers were around to lift the homemaker’s spirits amid her bid to create the world record.

“It was a labour of love for over 10 months. I took to origami when I lived in Tokyo, Japan, for around 18 months shortly after I got married over seven years ago,” said Jamila, a mother of two children, Burhanuddin, 8, and Insiyah, 6, who are pupils of Amity School Dubai.

“Though origami, which traces its origin to Japan, has struck a big chord in the West, especially in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA), the community that patronises this unique art form is relatively small in Dubai and across the UAE. I’ve made a modest attempt to promote origami in my adopted homeland, the UAE; my artistic inspiration, Japan; and my motherland, India, through my creations. The first three lines of my creations are a tribute to these nations as they embody deep trilateral ties, and more significantly between the UAE and Japan, which celebrated their golden jubilee of diplomatic relationship last month,” she said.

Jamila, who was born and raised in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, in central India, started making the “largest number of origami swans in the world” while juggling her domestic chores and taking care of her two children.

Jamila’s husband, Aliasgar, who works as a senior manager, business development, for a Japanese company operating in the UAE, was all praise for his wife’s “infectious enthusiasm and dedication”.

Iranian expatriate, Ali Bahmani, a digital product designer and an origami expert after having lived in Japan for five years in the 1990s, was one of the witnesses on behalf of the Guinness World Record authorities.

Ali Bahmani
Ali Bahmani

“I’m impressed by Jamila's aesthetics and simplicity in origami folding, which is a key to the art form,” he said.

Indian expatriate, Shrijit Nair, the other origami expert and the second witness for the Sunday event, too, was moved by Jamila’s “attention to detail and her helpful nature”.

Shrijit Nair
Shrijit Nair

Nair, an HR professional, singled out that “each and every piece of origami was folded by her”. He said her efforts would go a long way in popularising origami in the UAE and the wider region in the Arabian Gulf.

“Origami is an art that acts as a base for diverse subjects such as mathematics, science, engineering and whatever other topics of interest that a child could take during his/her childhood,” he added.


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