VIJAYA KUMAR BUDDHIRAJU
ST LOUIS: Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Center of St Louis (MGCC) celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi from September 27 to 29. The organizing team of 13 members, consisting of the members of the Board of Mahatma Gandhi Center and several other distinguished individuals of the community took about six months to prepare for this event.
The event on September 27 began with a social hour followed by an exhibition on the life of the Mahatma It was inaugurated by Ethel Byndom, Director of the Office of Community Engagement accompanied by Ethel Hazel, Director of Diversity of the St Louis County Executive’s Office.
Convener Raghunandan Dundoo welcomed the guests. Mohinder Partap, co-convener, received proclamations declaring October 2, 2019, as Mahatma Gandhi Day from the County Executive’s and Governor’s office.
Ann Wagner, Congresswoman from, talked about the contributions of the highly educated community to Missouri. Her arrival directly to Mahatma Gandhi Center from the airport despite an ankle fracture was well appreciated. Marie Mora, Associate Provost, Charles Hoffman, Dean of College of Business, and Debra Burris, Chief of Diversity of the University of Missouri-St Louis were among the speakers.
The participants were charmed by the favourite song of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Vishnava Jana To’ by the directors of Anurag School of Music and Dance, Kamal Yadav unveiled the souvenir “Parivartan” (Transformation) and talked about the importance and power of non-violence. Ashalatha Premchandra, the director of a dance school in St Louis, choreographed a Bharata Natyam dance, “Ram Bhajan”. The dance consisted of various scenes from Ramayana. The dance was performed by Aranya Ajit and Harshini Malarvannan. The music was by Sanjay Shantaram.
The Event was also attended by Niraj Antari, State Representative of 42nd District of Ohio and Abdul Wadood, vice president of Islamic Center of St. Louis.
Keynote speaker, Gene McNary, who served as the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization under the senior Bush presidency, was introduced to the audience by Jitendra Shah. In his speech McNary talked about the immigrations policies from that era till now.
Rahul Parikh, a descendent of Mahatma Gandhi, talked about the power of the principles of the Indian icon.
On September 28, the program included Dandi March, “Maithreem Bhajatha” song and a panel discussion. Essay writing competitions were conducted by Rajasekharan Bhaktavatsalam.
On September 29, the cultural activities were conducted for half a day. Students of Soorya School of Dances portrayed the important events leading to the freedom of India including the Salt March. The role of Mahatma Gandhi was played by Guru Prasanna.