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Gandhi Foundation celebrates the Mahatma’s 139th birth anniversary

November 2008
Gandhi Foundation celebrates the Mahatma’s 139th birth anniversary

The Gandhi Foundation of USA (GFUSA) celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s 139th birth anniversary at the site of the Gandhi statue at the MLK Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta on the clear, sunny afternoon of Thursday, October 2.

The foundation is an Atlanta-based national organization committed to spreading the Mahatma and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of peace and non-violence.

“October 2, Gandhi’s birthday, has a special significance to the world”, said Subash Razdan, Chairman of GFUSA, adding that Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, had issued a commemoration tribute from his campaign office honoring Gandhi. Senator Obama, in his tribute, wrote: “Gandhi’s significance is universal. Countless people around the world have been touched by his spirit and example — his victory in turn inspired a generation of young Americans to peacefully wipe out a system of overt oppression that had endured for a century, and more recently led to velvet revolutions in Eastern Europe and extinguished apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of their great debt to Gandhi. His portrait hangs in my office to remind me that real change will not come from Washington — it will come when the people, united, bring it to Washington.”

Razdan recalled the concerted efforts that went into the installation and dedication of the Gandhi statue in 1998, particularly the work of the National Federation of Indian-American Associations and the support of the Embassy of India, the Indian Government, the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, the King Center, and the Georgia Human Relations Commission.

Anthony Thaliath, Executive Director, GFUSA, observed, “The Gandhi statue in Atlanta is proving to be a big magnet as more than 800,000 visitors come to the King Historic site annually to marvel and pay homage to the invaluable bond between MLK Jr. and the Mahatma.”

One of the visitors, Johannah Duffy, a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Nottingham, England, said she was very happy to participate in the Gandhi birthday celebrations. “It has been a very rewarding and inspiring experience for me and I will always cherish the memory,” she said.

GFUSA Board member John Naugle observed that Atlanta could be the world’s biggest Global Peace Garden, with the triangle formed by the Carter Center, King Center and the Gandhi Center in the larger historic district. Following the floral homage to Gandhiji, Arunaben Patel and Raju Gokarn led the gathering in the singing of Gandhi’s favorite bhajans, Raghupati Raghav and Vaishanava Janato.

The gathering also paid tributes to the memory of the late Giriraj Rao, co-founder of the GFUSA, and Terrell Slayton, former Assistant Secretary of State, Georgia, whom Razdan described as “a great friend of the Indian-American community and the GFUSA.”

- Mahadev Desai

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