If Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four Pivet Drive had any idea that 20 years after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the boy who lived would be celebrating his birthday in Karachi, they would not have believed it.
On Sunday, a day before Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling’s birthdays (July 31), the British Council Library held a birthday bash for the wizard — complete with every flavoured jelly beans, cupcakes, make your own wand station, and a costume contest.
Mohammad Ahmed, a student dressed as the young wizard with Harry Potter’s trademark scar on his forehead, was standing in line waiting for his turn at the pin-a-tail-on-the-dragon booth.
“It took me half an hour to put this costume together,” he said.
“I really hope I win the contest. I have enjoyed the Harry Potter themed events held at the library,” he added as he stepped up to pin a tail on the dragon.
Faseeha, a mother of two, said that she came across the Harry Potter events organised by the library on Facebook and was glad she signed up for them.
“We have attended all the events held here this month and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly,” she said.
Mobeen was busy making a wand with his daughters who were dressed up as Harry’s best friend Hermione Granger.
“We have been members of the library for a while now. This event and others have been brilliant. A very healthy activity for the kids in the summer,” he said.
Mohammad Rizwan, another parent, said that it was a wonderful event. “It’s a good place to come explore the world of Harry Potter and books,” he said, adding that such events instilled the love of books in children and were a treat for everyone.
“The event is very exciting … or should I say magically enchanting? I have been following their other events as well such as the quiz,” said another Harry Potter fan at the event.
Hashir Imran who was dressed as a Slytherin student said that the Harry Potter events at the library had made his summer fun. “Normally I am at home just playing video games or reading, but this made me more active,” he said.
Dressed up as Hermione, Rania was carrying a wand in her hand and helping her sister make one as well. Their mother signed the girls up back in May and they have been attending events since.
Rabea Arif, manager of the library and outreach services, told Dawn that response had been overwhelming.
“When we announced these events, we did not know how much people were into Harry Potter. Some people asked why the quiz was limited to only 17 and under. They were very enthusiastic,” she said.
The British Council Library’s Director in Sindh and Balochistan, Chris Hunt, said Sunday was all about celebrating Harry Potter.
“We have loads of activities, including the Harry Potter snakes and ladders, book readings, make a wand, origami sessions … it’s all about engaging the children and their parents in the literature,” he said.
Dressed as Prof Quirrell/Lord Voldemort from the first book of the Harry Potter series, Mr Hunt said that he was an alumnus of the Edinburgh University — a place that Ms Rowling wrote a number of her books.
“Actually, she [Rowling] got her honorary degree from the university the day I got my degree from Edinburgh,” he said.
“When you graduate from the university, its not the same like others where you toss your hats in the air … you are sort of touched on the head with a cloth... it's believed to be the inspiration for the sorting hat in the book,” he added.
Originally published in Dawn, July 31st, 2017