Members of the Indian-American community met Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, 2020 in Fords, N.J., to celebrate the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, also referred to as The Father of the Nation, and Bapuji fondly. The event included an exhibition as well as the unveiling of a statue of Gandhi.
Several speakers addressed the life of the man credited with hastening the independence of India, and especially known for his belief in non-violence and civil disobedience.
The Gandhian Society, New Jersey and Gandhi Research Foundation, a Gandhian organization based in India, set up an exhibition highlighting the life, teachings and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Impact of Gandhi’s teachings on world leaders and relevance of his teachings in the world at Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, New Jersey.
Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, noted how Gandhiji’s principles are more relevant when there is a rise in crime, violence and a lot of hatred among people. “His way of life makes a lot of sense in today’s world, in 2020,” he daid. He congratulated Bhadra Butala, founder of the Gandhian Society, and H. K. Shah, founder of World Vegan Vision, for putting together a great exhibition and show. Nitin Vyas, director of World Vegan Vision was also involved with organizing the event.
Butala, an entrepreneur based in New Jersey said, “I believe in Gandhi. (He) is everything for me. I dedicated my life him.” He later also said, “Gandhi was not a politician. He never believed in the war, or casteism or any kind of discrimination.”
H.K. Shah, said, “Truth and non-violence were Mahatma Gandhi’s main principles which should be followed by everyone in today’s world also. He had no wealth, no power, no assets; yet he was the most loved and respected person across the world.”
Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Jaiswal lauded the efforts of putting together the exhibition that celebrates Gandhi’s life. “But more importantly, it celebrates his legacy. Thank you very much for being so thoughtful in your celebration,” Jaiswal said at the event.
Dr. Parikh took to the stage, and addressed the importance of taking a pause in our hectic lives to contemplate what Gandhi and his work mean to the world now. “We often see Gandhi’s profound words being used by so many Americans. One of them, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ is one of my favorites. Many great leaders like Martin Luther King also followed it. We would be doing Gandhi a great honor if we lived by his words. Today, when issues like racism, hate crime, massive wealth inequality, climate change, civil war protests are on the rise, it would be the most relevant to follow non-violence and civil disobedience.”
“There are many critics of Gandhi’s philosophy but not one of them can say that bapuji did not try from his heart to bring peace and harmony in this world,” Parikh went on to say.
Padma Shri H.R. Shah, chairman and CEO of South Asian American channel TV Asia, admired Gandhi for being a firm believer of satyagraha. He quoted Leo Tolstoy saying, “Where there is faith, there is love; where there is love, there is peace; where there is peace, there is God; and where there is God, there is no need.”
Jaiswal beseeched people especially young people to visit the exhibition to learn from the life and legacy of Gandhi.