Shraddhanjali by Mahatma Gandhi Library

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Board Members of Mahatma Gandhi Library join Smriti Srivastava and Chidanand ji in rendering Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram as the finale of the Shraddhanali

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi who spread the message of non-violence, truth and global peace, died on January 30, 1948. Mahatma Gandhi Library (MGL) in collaboration with Unity Houston commemorated Shraddhanjali, a memorial service, on Saturday, February 7, at Unity Houston, 2929 Unity Dr.

Mahatma Gandhi said “I shall conquer untruth by truth.  And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”  He was never afraid of death.

Currently, the world is encountering several challenges including intolerance, impatience, and terrorism. Hence, it is essential to follow the ideas and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, especially truth and non-violence, not only to achieve international peace and prosperity, but the same within one’s own heart.

Mahatma Gandhi Library is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the universal values of peace, non-violence, truth and love. The library was started almost twelve years ago by the vision and dedication of Atulbhai Kothari and today, with many dedicated volunteers, their worthy efforts continue.

The Shraddhanjali program started sharply at 3:45 pm with the delightful playing of the violin by Shreya Chawla from Sartartia Middle School, FBISD.  MGL board member Devinder Mahajan welcomed the guests and explained the importance of year 2015 as the 100th anniversary of Gandhiji return from South Africa to his motherland, Bharat, India in 1915.

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Children from Arya Samaj DAV Sanskriti School (Sunday School) performing at Shraddhanjali

Rajan Chawla was a brilliant Master of Ceremony for the program which initiated with an Invocation from Reverend Robert Hudspeth, the Spiritual Director of the Fellowship Spiritual Life Center, followed by garlanding and lamp lighting ceremony by Dr. Manish Wani of MGL and Rev Mindy Lawrence and Rev Michael Gott of Unity Houston.

The program continued with a beautiful rendition of the bhajan  Vaishnav Janato by the glittering voice of Smriti Srivastava and her group from Arya Samaj.  Eesha Ranjith Nair, 3rd grader at Harmony School of Excellence and a student of DAV Sanskriti School of Arya Samaj delighted the audience with her winning speech, “Values in life are more important than success”.  It was followed by speech winner Ananya Choudary, 7th grader at Seven Lakes Junior High and a member of Bihar Association of North America (BANA) spoke on “Trusteeship vs ownership: Which is better.”

This was followed by the Unity Choir led by Rev Michael Gott as they harmoniously sang “Every praise is to our God.”

Mr. Atul Kothari, on behalf of the board of Mahatma Gandhi Library awarded a special recognition plaque to Kristi Person from Sugarland Middle School.  Her entire class has been participating in MGK organized essay contests since 2005. Sanjay Ahuja received the plaque on behalf of the Arya Yuvak Mandal (AYM) youth volunteers for their continued support and dedication to the activities of Mahatma Gandhi Library.

Daksh Kapoor, Senior from Austin High School, presented his awe-inspiring 1st place winning entry in iTribute multimedia presentation entitled “Mandela: portrayal of Gandhian principles.”

The keynote speaker for the program was Rev. Mindy Lawrence of Unity Houston who gave a moving tribute and explained “Gandhiji was an anomaly in an era marked by two world wars” and “in order to be the change you wish to see, be who you need to be.”

The program continued with the adorable children from DAV Sanskirti School of Arya Samaj Houston led by Smriti Shrivastava, as they sang beautiful bhajans patriotic songs, Mera Joota Hai Japani” and “Chhodo Kal ki baatein.”

Dr. Sitaben Kapadia, member of the reading group at the Mahatma Gandhi Library, and Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature, University of New York, then gave her insightful perspective of Mahatma Gandhi. She is one of the few still alive that has actually seen Mahatma Gandhi in person.  She described the vision of his radiant smile which she saw from 10 feet away that still inspires her today.

The Unity Choir again took center stage and sang a lively rendition of “Amazing Grace” getting the audience involved and lifting the spirits of all in attendance.

The program concluded with a vote of thanks by Vijay Singh, Board member of the Mahatma Gandhi Library and chair of the program. The crowd was encouraged to visit the Gandhi Darshan Exhibit on display and the MGL booth. The event culminated with the singing of one of Gandhiji’s favorite bhajans, Raghupathi Raghav Raja Ram” by the Mahatma Gandhi Library board members again led by Smriti Shrivastava.  It was followed by beautiful instrumental music in the background while all present enjoyed refreshments.

The Shraddhanjali program at Unity Houston  commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s life was truly inspirational and proved to keep the legacy of peace, truth, non-violence and love alive, penetrating the hearts of all in attendance.