A Celebration of the 147th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

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Atul Kothari

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi Library presented the spectacular 1000 Lights for Peace, a celebration of the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, on Sunday, October 2, 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.

The walk culminated on stage at Miller Outdoor Theater, welcomed by the talented Katy Taylor HS Drumline.

The 1000 lights for Peace program started at 6pm with an invocation by Rev Daniel Dominguez from Centro Familiar Cristiano in Sugarland, and Dr. Kavita Vachaknavee from Arya Samaj Greater Houston.

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Neha Srivastava, the lovely Mistress of Ceremonies kept the evening flowing with historical perspectives on not only Mahatma Gandhi, but also social reformers including Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu.

The Gandhi Darshan Exhibit, portraying the chronological lifetime of Gandhiji with actual photographs from that era, were on display as were booths for arts and crafts and face painting, which the children lined up for.  The Vegan Society for Peace and the Indo-American Senior citizens club were active participants throughout the day.

The evening started with the adorable children from Houston’s St. Catherine Montessori Catholic Choir directed by Tim and Mindy Snow. They brilliantly sang “Halleluleah.”

Rigved Sawale, winner of the younger speech contest, inspired the crowd by reciting his winning speech “Truth: My Story.”

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Next was a high-energy, dynamic performance called Nsati by KoumonKe’le’ African Dance & Drum Ensemble, directed by Ms. Christina Gerard.

Tony Jha then treated the crowd to his brilliant winning speech in the older category discussing Non-Violence: Means of Conflict Resolution.

The students of Anjali Center of Performing Arts, directed by Dr. Rathna Kumar, performed a classical Indian dance to the melodious tune, Vaishnav Janato.

The Keynote Speaker for the evening Houston City Controller Chris Brown 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” was his primary influence for entering public service.

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The Ismaili Dance Ensemble presented an elegant performance featuring Turkish and Syrian folk dances.

Dr. Manish Wani announced an unprecedented collaboration of MGL with Birla group in India to bring Eternal Gandhi Museum to Houston. It is one the world’s first digital multimedia museums preserving the historical events of Gandhiji’s life.

Chris Brown presented the awards to more than 30 winners of the city-wide contests held by Mahatma Gandhi Library.

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The Abhinaya School of Performing Arts, directed by Indrani Parthasarathy, presented a “Collage for Peace” set to contemporary Carnatic fusion music with the dance style of Bharatanatyam.

Atul Kothari, the founder of MGL, delivered the vote of thanks and urged everyone to think deeply about attaining peace in their own hearts.

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 and the soundtrack of “Jyot se Jyot.”

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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