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1000 Lights for Peace, A Celebration of the 148th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Library presented the spectacular 1000 Lights for Peace on Sunday, October 1, at Miller Outdoor Theater. The finale of the evening included the candle lighting by all present as a pledge to practice peace in their lives.

Mahatma Gandhi Library presented the spectacular 1000 Lights for Peace on Sunday, October 1, at Miller Outdoor Theater. The finale of the evening included the candle lighting by all present as a pledge to practice peace in their lives.

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi Library presented the spectacular 1000 Lights for Peace, a celebration of the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, on Sunday, October 1, at Miller Outdoor Theater.

The spirit of Houstonians attending the program was truly visible during this auspicious celebration. The gorgeous day started with 5K Walk for Peace, coordinated by Sesh Bala. The participants walked around Hermann Park voting for peace with their feet, many proudly displaying signs depicting peace. They visited the life size statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Houston Garden Center to pay homage to the apostle of peace.  The Grand Marshalls were Kristen Lee Ohanyan, of Vegan Society for PEACE, Bob Fleming of Compassionate Houston and Ramesh Shah of Ekal Vidyalaya.  The walk was led by Vinod Arora dressed as Mahatma Gandhi for the first time.

The finale of the evening celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 148th birthday as 1000 Lights For Peace at the Miller Outdoor Theatre was candle lighting by all present, as pledge to practice peace in their lives. It was initiated by Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray.

The finale of the evening celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 148th birthday as 1000 Lights For Peace at the Miller Outdoor Theatre was candle lighting by all present, as pledge to practice peace in their lives. It was initiated by Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray.

The walk culminated on stage at Miller Outdoor Theater to kick off the 1000 Lights for Peace program.

The 1000 lights for Peace program started at 6pm with an invocation by Dr. Kavita Vachaknavee of Arya Samaj of Houston with Vedic prayer. This was followed by  Rev Siedo Francavilla of the St. Nichiren Temple with the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, translated Devotion-Mystic-Law-Cause & Effect-Sound.

Neha Srivastava and Akash Gupta, the MCs, kept the evening flowing with historical perspectives on not only Mahatma Gandhi, but also social reformers including Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, and Desmond Tutu.

Opening ceremony of Walk For Peace.  In picture, Vinod Arora as Mahatma Gandhi, Sesh Bala, the coordinator of Walk For Peace and Grand Marshalls, Kristen Lee Ohanyan, Bob Flemming of Compassionate Houston, and Ramesh Shah of Ekal Vidyalaya.

Opening ceremony of Walk For Peace.  In picture, Vinod Arora as Mahatma Gandhi, Sesh Bala, the coordinator of Walk For Peace and Grand Marshalls, Kristen Lee Ohanyan, Bob Flemming of Compassionate Houston, and Ramesh Shah of Ekal Vidyalaya.

The Gandhi Darshan Exhibit portraying the chronologically lifetime of Gandhiji with actual photographs from that era was also on display as were booths for arts and crafts, balloons, and henna painting, which the children lined up for.  Annesa Patel, a 10th grader,  had a display of her paintings for silent auction.  The Vegan Society for Peace and the Indo-American Senior citizens club were active participants throughout the day.  Youth volunteer from Arya Samaj led by Sanjay Ahuja helped out from start to finish.  Kudos to all the adult volunteers, too many to name, make this yet another great celebration.

The evening started with a melodious rendition of Ganesh Vandana by choir directed by Smriti Srivastava.  

Khushi Kawedia, winner of the younger speech contest, inspired the crowd by reciting her winning speech “Love never claims, it ever gives.”
Next was a fabulous performance by the adorable children from Houston’s St. Catherine Montessori Catholic Choir directed by Tim and Mindy Snow. They brilliantly sang “Kumbaya.”

St Catherin’s children performing at 1000 Lights For Peace.

St Catherin’s children performing at 1000 Lights For Peace.

Next was a high-energy, dynamic performance by the Folklorico International from Mexico, directed by Nelly Fraga. The students of Anjali Center of Performing Arts, directed by Dr. Rathna Kumar, performed a classical Indian dance called Mahaganapathim.

Tony Jha then treated the crowd to his brilliant winning speech in the older category discussing Peace is the goal, non-violence is the way.”

The Ismaili Dance Ensemble presented an elegant performance featuring Turkish and Syrian folk dances directed by Fareeda Chagani

The Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray addressed the audience on his idea of peace and non-violence and his inspiration from the Father of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi. The Keynote Speaker for the evening Rev Michael Gott, Senior pastor of Unity Houston, spoke about how relevant the practice of Non-Violence was in today’s strife ridden world and that Gandhi’s message of “Be the change you want to see in the world” as his primary influence for entering public service. He said he was Christian with a Hindu soul.

Dr. Anupam Ray and Rev Michael Gott presented the awards to the many winners of the city-wide contests held by Mahatma Gandhi Library.  

Dr. Manish Wani, member of the Board of trustees of Mahatma Gandhi Library, announced an unprecedented collaboration of MGL with Birla group in India to bring Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum to Houston. It is one the world’s first digital multimedia museums preserving the historical events of Gandhiji’s life. A 3-acre parcel of land has been secured for the museum in South Houston near Beltway 8 and Hwy 59.

The last international performance of the evening was a dynamic performance called Nsati by the KoumonKe’le’ African Dance & Drum Ensemble, directed by Christina Gerard.

The spectacular evening concluded with the lighting of a candle by all as a symbolic pledge to observe peace in their own lives. The crowd reflected on how to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s life listening to the soothing song “Imagine” by John Lennon.  Please see the picture.

To learn more about 1000 Lights for Peace, please visit gandhilibrary.org or contact Dr. Manish Wani at 713-829-6979.

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