Aramgah Memorial Garden Foundation  P. O. Box 67  Wynnewood,  PA  19096

 

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A Short History of Aramgah Memorial Garden Foundation (Aramgah) September 2014

In 1982, after an Iranian family living in the Philadelphia area lost their loved one, the family was looking for a cemetery with a dedicated section for Moslems where he could be buried in the traditional Islamic way. They ended up taking him to Washington, DC where they could find a suitable cemetery. In the following year the same problem was experienced again.

In 1983, Dr. Akbar Bonakdarpour, Mr. Manuchehr Nikpour and Mr. Fereydoon Rabii began to seek a suitable site for an Islamic cemetery. After locating a possible site at Ambler, in the outskirts of Philadelphia (Whitemarsh Memorial Park), they invited several other Iranians to help to establish an Islamic cemetery for Iranians and formed the Aramgah Memorial Garden Foundation. The group agreed that the Garden should be divided into two sections. One section was to be exclusively for the use of Iranian Moslems, called Islamic Garden. A section would also be reserved for Iranian Moslems and their non-Moslem relatives, called Persian Garden. Aramgah Memorial Gardens Foundation was officially registered in April 1986 as a non-profit organization.

On May 21, 1986 a group of 18 people met and selected 9 trustees. The trustees then selected three from amongst themselves as executive officers: Dr. Bonakdarpour as President, Mr. Rabii as Secretary and Dr. Mohammad Rowghani as Treasurer. Hence Aramgah was born.

Aramgah then negotiated an agreement with Whitemarsh to secure a plot with a capacity for 2000 lots. Negotiations were prolonged and difficult, but the final agreement with Whitemarsh included the reservation of a plot of land with the capacity for 600 lots for 25 years. Aramgah was required to purchase at least 100 lots at the outset. In addition, to secure and reserve a larger plot of land with capacity for 2000 lots in perpetuity, Aramgah was required to purchase at least 600 lots within 25 years.

The responsibility of preparing the layout of the Garden and the positioning of the lots in accordance with Islamic requirements so that the buried would face Mecca was entrusted to Mr. Rabbii. He prepared the present layout of Aramgah after contacting the National Geographic Society for proper orientation and getting an exact angle from Whitemarsh to Mecca. Dr. A. Bonakdarpur visited the Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani to ensure that Aramgah Islamic section was in every respect set up in accordance with Islamic requirements for an Islamic cemetery.

In year 2001 Aramgah deadline for the purchase of the required additional lots was nearing its end and the Aramgah Trustee Members were concerned to lose the right to have the balance of a larger plot of land to accommodate 2000 lots. After much discussion and thought, it was decided to raise a loan to secure the larger plot for perpetuity. With using the personal credit of six board members, Aramgah was able to secure $100,000 interest free loan from the Alavi Foundation and purchase additional lots. This purchase brought the total number of lots purchased from Whitemarsh to 601 and secured the entire plot of land containing 2000 lots in perpetuity for use by Aramgah. Accordingly both the Islamic Garden and the Persian Garden sections of Aramgah have gained substantial extensions. Atamgah was able to repay it's interest free loan in less than six years.

Following repeated request by Aramgah members regarding the erection of a Prayer Stone and availability of Water at the site and after years of discussion in the board, finally by the majority vote of the Board of Trustees, these two projects were approved and accomplished by Aramgah's found and generous donation by our community members.  According to the agreement between Aramgah and  Whitewash, the maintenance and monthly cost of water use will be provided by Whitemarsh indefinitely.

Aramgah has continued to function as a democratically run and stable organization. There have been several elections, and many of the members have served as Trustees of Aramgah. All Trustees members have served as volunteers. The By-Laws have been amended with the most notable revision relating to allowing the burial of all Moslems in the extension of the Islamic Garden section, and the burial of all Iranians in the extension of the Persian Garden section of Aramgah.