- Mike Pearse has been to find out more
30,000 people from across the country are in Hampshire this weekend to celebrate a major religious convention.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community is the youngest denomination within Islam and meets near Alton every year.
It is the first time they have been able to meet fully since the pandemic. They meet to pray, meet friends and hear from spiritual leaders.
Rafiq Ahmed Hayat, President, Ahmadiyya Muslim Assn, said: “This is a spiritual event, people come here because they listen to the addresses of various scholarly people.
“They discuss various things including peace in the world and how we can achieve peace in the world. We also have normally, we have representation from different countries.”
This year, most visitors are restricted to living in the UK.
Thousands more from overseas who would usually visit are unable to attend because of the ongoing Covid restrictions.
Muhammad Ahmad, a visitor from America, said: “It’s important for me to come all the way to the UK because after three years of Zoom and three years of watching everything on TV, I needed the boost in my spirituality not just my vacationing.”
Behind the scenes, in the kitchen, hundreds of thousands of meals are being prepared for the event which has taken a year to plan. This includes around 300,000 naan breads which will be made over the weekend.
The event got underway on Friday afternoon and will go on until Sunday.