Week Long Celebrations for Gandhi Jayanti

Gandhi 2 In

Walk For Peace led by Suresh Shah dressed as Mahatma Gandhi. Extreme left: Sonal Bhuchar, Grand Marshall for the Walk For Peace.

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi Library along with more than 100 organizations concluded Mahatma Gandhi Week 2014 with big fanfare on Saturday, October 4 at The Jones Plaza, Houston.  The evening celebrated 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi Jayanti, celebrated as 1000 Lights For Peace.

The 9th Annual 1000 Lights for Peace, was another huge success. Each year Mahatma Gandhi Library organizes month long activities culminating in celebration of Gandhi Jayanti on weekend following October 2, Gandhiji’s actual birthday.

Gandhi 1

Finale of the evening celebrating Gandhi Jayanti as 1000 Lights for Peace was the lighting of a candle by all present to pledge to practice peace in their own lives. A fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

The spirits of the Houstonians attending the program at The Jones Plaza were inspired during this auspicious celebration. The weather was picture perfect. The brilliant day started with the Walk for Peace, beginning at the Jones Plaza in downtown Houston with garlanding of a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and the lighting of the authentic 1966 Olympic Torch by the Grand Marshall, Mrs. Sonal Buchar. The participants walked almost 5 kilometers along the Buffalo Bayou on the Sabine Promenade, voting for peace with their feet and demonstrating that a life of peace is a daily steadfast commitment that requires the patience of a man trying to empty the sea with a cup. During the walk, many proudly displayed signs of Peace, Truth, Non-violence and Love spreading the message that resonated throughout the city of Houston
Upon their arrival back at The Jones Plaza, they were welcomed onto the main stage by the musical tribute from the talented Katy McMeans Junior High band, conducted by George Liverman.

The 1000 lights For Peace program, started promptly at 7 pm with an invocation by Acharya Suryanarayan Nanda of Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Rev Daniel Domiguez from Centro Familiar Cristiano in Sugarland, and Dr. Basheer Khumwala from University of Houston.
Dr. Manish Wani was a very informative Master of Ceremonies and kept the evening flowing with historical perspectives on not only Mahatma Gandhi, but also prominent international social reformers including Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Malala Yousafzai.
The Ballet Folkorico “Raices del Peru” of Houston performed the first International act of the evening.  This was followed by a beautiful poem recited by Saqib Mushtaq and interpreted by Imam Mubasheer Ahmad, both from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

The Chief Guest for the evening, Dr. Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection, addressed the audience informing them about the new exhibition “Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Non-violence.”

The crowd then welcomed the more than 100 adorable and talented children from Houston’s St. Catherine Montessori Catholic Choir directed by Tim and Mindy Snow. They brilliantly sang “Agnus Dei”, “Light a Candle for Peace,” and “Dona Nobis.”

Six-year-old Rigved Sawale (from Cornerstone Elementary in FBISD) dazzled the crowd by reciting his winning speech from the 10 and under category titled “Values in life are more important than successes.”

Reverend Gregory Han, Director of Interfaith Relations at Interfaith Ministries for greater Houston, was the Chief Guest for the evening and inspired the crowd with his speech about peace and its relevance in today’s society.

Atul Kothari, founder of Mahatma Gandhi Library, presented a plaque of appreciation to volunteer Mahesh Gandhi for his unconditional and everlasting dedication to the organization.

The next cultural item came from the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia performing Cendrawasih, a beautiful dance performed in duo about a famous bird in paradise, directed by Mr. Bambang Setyobudhi.

Shreetika Singh (from Seven Lakes High School in Katy), winner of the 11 and over speech contest, inspired the crowd by reciting her winning speech titled “Trusteeship vs. Ownership: which is better for the world?”

Special guest Honorable Consul General of India, Parvatheneni Harish, spoke about the ever-lasting legacy left by our beloved Bapu, Father of Modern Bharat, India. A legacy, of which not only Bharat, India, is proud of, but the whole world is proud.

Consul General P. Harish, accompanied by his wife Nandita and Atul Kothari, presented the well-earned awards to more than the 30 winners of the city-wide contests held by Mahatma Gandhi Library.

The Gandhi Darshan Exhibit portraying the chronologic lifetime of Gandhiji with actual photographs from that era was also displayed at the Jones Plaza and was enjoyed by many visitors. The exhibition is now on display at the Lone Star College , Cy-Fair branch for the month of October.

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

The spectacular evening concluded with the lighting of a candle by all in attendance and a pledge to observe peace in their own lives. The candle lighting quickly spread throughout The Jones Plaza blazing downtown Houston. The crowd reflected on the magical evening and how to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s life listening to the soothing background music “We are the World” and “Jyot se Jyot Jagate Chalo.”

To view and learn more about 1000 Lights for Peace, visit www.gandhilibrary.org