Chicagoland remembers Mahatma Gandhi’s life and global influence

Dr. Santosh Kumar, left, the president of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Shriram Sonty, vice president, with George Van Dusen, the Mayor of Skokie and Somnath Ghosh, right, the Consul General of India, and Prayag Raj, Vedic Acharya, in back row, pay homage to Gandhiji, on his birthday October 2, 2023, at Heritage Park in Skokie where the Mahatma’s statue stands. PHOTO: Courtesy Asian Media USA

Members of the Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s life on Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, 2023. The event took place at Heritage Park where the life-size monument of Gandhiji stands, a press release from Asian Media USA said.

Those present at the event included Dr. Santosh Kumar, president of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Vice President Dr. Shriram Sonty, Chairman Suresh Bodiwala, and Dipti Shah, the treasurer, as well as India’s Consul General in Chicago Somnath Ghosh, Mayor of Skokie, Ill. George Van Dusen, State Senator Ram Villivalam who represents District 8, Prayag Raj, Vedic Acharya, and more than fifty elderly seniors and staff members from Metropolitan Asian Family Services, Chicago, Niles, and Schaumburg locations.

A poster from Gandhi Memorial Foundation featuring those present at the Oct. 2, 2023, Gandhi Jayanti event in Heritage Park, Skokie, Illinois. PHOTO: Asian Media USA

In his opening remarks, Consul General Gosh recognized Gandhiji as a political ethicist having an enormous impact all over India and the world. He talked about the impact Bapu had on Martin Luther King, Jr. after he visited India in 1959. Reverand King regarded Gandhiji as his spiritual Guru, and acknowledged  that Gandhiji was one of the rare people who could say, “My life is my message” Ghosh went on to say. He noted that in his book “A Promised Land” former President Barack Obama said that in the entire sweep of history, I there was any person he would have wanted to meet, he named Gandhi.

Flowers offered at the feet of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Heritage Park, Skokie, Illinois, Oct. 2, 2023, celebrating his life and legacy on Gandhi Jayanti. PHOTO: Asian Media USA

Dr. Sonty Sriram remembered his visit last year to  Pietermaritzburg Railway Station in South Africa to be a part of Human Rights celebration where Mahatma Gandhi was a victim of racially discrimination and was forcibly removed from  first-class train compartment in 1893. Dr. Sriram sang Gandhi’s favorite Bhajan “Veshnav Jan to…”

Mayor George Van Dusen recalled a memorable ceremony in 2004 when the life- size statue of Mahatma Gandhi ji “an icon to world peace” was introduced in Skokie Park, with about 1,500 people in attendance and a hovering helicopter that dropped rose petals.

Bodiwala recalled that Dr. Chandrakant Modi, a community leader in Chicago, put forth a great effort in 2004 to have the Gandhiji Statue installed at the Heritage Park, even though he could not attend due to ill-health.

All invited guests including Sen. Villivalam and the members of Gandhi Memorial Foundation praised Gandhiji as a man who dedicated his life to the struggle for freedom and justice, the man who advocated for the path of peace, truth, and self-sacrifice, the man who encapsulated the true spirit of humanity and nationalism, a man who used non-violence to fight the British, and became the “Father of the nation.”

Dr. Kumar asked everyone to uphold his principles in their personal and public life, and praised Dr. Sonty for living such a life and following Gandhi’s footsteps. Acharya Raj asked everyone present to read and follow the philosophy of Gandhiji’s beloved book Shrimad Bhagwat Gita.

MAFS members Sudarshan Malhotra, Rujuta Pancholi, Mohinder Vaid and others sang Bhajans that were Bapu favorites, such as “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram.”

Vaid highlighted Gandhiji’s three monkeys with words, explained the meaning of each monkey’s message, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. He also sang a well-known Bollywood song, “Suno Suno Duniavalo Bapu ki ye Amar Kahani” (People of the world, listen to the story of Bapu).

Pancholi remembered Gandhiji most famous quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

MAFS Managers, Dipti Shah, Jahnavi Bavisi, Promila Mehta and Mital Patel, with the help of other staff members, managed the entire program including providing snacks and tea during the event.



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