Gandhi Foundation Observes Triple Celebrations at King Center
The Gandhi Foundation of USA (GF-USA) observed a momentous triple celebration with the 9th anniversary dedication of Mahatma Gandhi's statue, the 58th Republic Day of India, and Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 78th birth anniversary. The event was held at the M.L.K. National Historic Site on Saturday, January 27.
Melissa Rias of the National Park Service (NPS) said, "The Gandhi Statue is proving to be a big magnet, as more than 700,000 visitors a year come to Atlanta to marvel and pay homage to the invaluable bond between Dr. King and the Mahatma."
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin's Chief of Staff, Greg Pridgeon, expressed his joy and pride in delivering the Mayor's message. He remarked, "Ebenezer Church is a special place, for it is here that during the years 1960 to 1968, Atlanta's favorite son and Civil Rights icon, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., stood and preached the word of God, talked world peace, racial harmony, economic equality and changed the social fabric of Atlanta. His philosophy influenced by the great Mahatma, helped in closing the gap of hatred, brought different races together and immortalized him in the hearts of millions across the planet. He is revered today for his legacy, for his cause and for his convictions".
Dr. Shivadas sang the rousing peace song, "Let there be Peace on Earth." Krishna Kali and her troupe sang one of Gandhi's favorite bhajans, "Vaishanava janato." Atlanta's well-known musician, Amitava Sen, his wife Suzanne Sen, Riyadh Ahmed, Naseer Ahmed, Rinta Ahmed and Rakhi Banerjee regaled the audience with songs on liberation by poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Nishi Shah and Nirvi Shah, trained by Vibha Desai and Usha Kadaba, performed a scintillating dance to the patriotic song, "Vande Mataram." Many eyes in the audience were teary when Krishna Kali and her troupe sang Lata Mangeshkar's perhaps most famous and heart- tugging patriotic song, "Ae mere watan ke logon."
The Guest Speaker, current President of IACA, Gauranga Banik, spoke about India's Republic Day celebrations and about the many freedom fighters and selfless patriots who gave their lives for the cause of India's Freedom.
Dr. Sunita Dodani, a cardiologist from Augusta, Ga., spoke about her planned research project ("Heart Study for South Asians") at the Medical College of Georgia, to establish causative factors for a disproportionate incidence of cardiac and vascular related diseases in South Asian community. She thanked the Gandhi Foundation for supporting her forthcoming research project.
His Excellency Moses Mukami, founding chairperson of MLK Jr. Africa Foundation in Kenya, could not be there in person due to a delayed flight. Instead, Subash Razdan was invited to conduct the Gandhi Award presentations.
The recipients for the 2007 Gandhi Foundation Recognition awards were Steve Klein of King Center, Ravi Ponangi of India Tribune and Mahadev Desai of Gandhi Foundation, a freelance journalist of long standing in Atlanta.
Ms. Sylvia Campbell, a volunteer with Crossroads Community Ministries (CCM), John Naugle, a peace activist and a co-founder of Atlanta: City of Peace Initiative, spoke of the importance of the Gandhi Center. The joyous celebrations concluded with delectable refreshments co-sponsored by Bhojanic Restaurant. After thanking all the volunteers, sponsors and performers, Dr. Shivadas adjourned the assembly with the traditional Civil Rights anthem, "We shall overcome".
~ Mahadev Desai
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