CHICAGO: The Gandhi Memorial Trust in collaboration with Village of Skokie and the Indian Consulate in Chicago hosted a celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at a larger than life, bronze statue of the Indian leader. The event was held at the Heritage Public Park in Skokie, a northside suburb of Chicago with over 150 Gandhi admirers and followers attending the occasion,
The nearly two-hour event began with offerings of floral tribute to the Mahatma’s statue and singing of his favorite song “Vaishnav jan to” by Bollywood singer Poonam Bhatia.
The village of Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, village trustees, Indian Consul General Sudhakar Dalela with consulate team; Santosh Kumar and staff of Universal Metro Asian Services (UMAS), were among those who graced the occasion
Chairman of the Trust Dr. Chandrakant M. Modi, in his welcome speech, talked about the installation of the Mahatma’s statue 15 years ago. He acknowledged pivotal supportive role played by the Mayor and the village trustees team.
“If Gandhi’s teachings are followed today, no one has to crave to go to heaven as the earh itself will become a heavenly place fopr all its inhabitants,” Modi said.
Mayor Dusen observed that Gandhi’s strength came from his spirituality, his honesty and simplicity and, his absolute conviction in non-violence. Albert Einstein, the Mayor recalled, said, “generations to come, may not believe that such a man as this in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”.
Since the installation of the statue, every year, in honor of Gandhi, the village has proclaimed October 2 as Peace Day, the Mayor added
Indian CG Sudhakar Dalela shared Gandhi’s role in achieving monumental task of attaining the goal of independence by non-violent means. Gandhi’s words, actions and methods won over the masses and as a result, several joined him as he led momentous the “Dandi Salt March” in 1930. In 1942, he launched the Quit India Movement.
Dalela also shared the messages from Indian President and Prime Minister on this occasion and congratulated the Gandhi Memorial community for continuing to spread the message of Mahatma Gandhi.
Santosh Kumar, chairperson of Universal Metro Asian Services (UMAS), Chicago, thanked everyone for coming out in large numbers to celebrate Gandhi’s birth anniversary and vowed to keep up serving the community in the best manner.
A special award called “Sarhadke Gandhi” was given to Adil Syed, one of grandsons of freedom fighter Khan Abdul Gafar Khan.
In a separate event, the Chicago Indian Americans, in league with the National Council of Asian Indian Associations (NCAIA), and the Indian Consulate, Chicago, observed Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary at the Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, October 2.
The event was attended by over 300 guests, which included US elected representatives, friends of India from businesses, academia, media, arts and culture, members of the Indian American community and Indian nationals. Deputy Mayor of Chicago Samir Mayekar, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State Senator Ram Villivalam and mayors from neighboring towns attended the event.
Harish Kolasani, president of NCAIA, appreciated the wholehearted support of the Indian community organizations to celebrate the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in Chicago in a befitting manner.
In his remarks, Consul General Dalela recalled the ideals and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and their relevance for the contemporary world. He also outlined a number of events organized in the course of sesquicentennial celebrations in the Chicago area and the US mid-west.
The event included a one-hour cultural program with music and dance performance on “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” by Natya Dance Theatre and Surabhi Ensemble, a rendition of Bapu’s favourite bhajan “Vaishnav Jan To” by Anita Lerche, rendition of bhajan by eminent vocalist Indira Naik, and a skit “Gandhi Ek Yugpurush” coordinated by United for Peace team and performed by Chicago-based Mandi Theater Group.