NY Indo-Caribs Observe Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary
On Sunday afternoon, after the conclusion of Mandir services, Indo-Caribbean people assembled on Liberty Ave at 1:00 PM on 121 Street for the 26th annual Gandhi Peace March. Last Saturday was the 152nd Gandhi Jayanti, or birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Guyanese in New York joined Trinis and other Indo-Caribbeans and nationals from India to pay tribute to Mahatma (noble soul) with a peace march and speeches. Remarks were made in mandirs on the ideology of the Mahatma.
The march was led by a tassa band and flag bearers carrying the USA, Guyana, and Trinidad flags. Onlookers cheered the marchers who were escorted by police and closure of streets.
It was the twenty sixth annual Mahatma Gandhi Peace March. And it took place on October 3 under very warm, condition, bright sun on Liberty Ave from 121 Street to 111th Street, in New York, culminating at the Tulsi Mandir led by Guyanese Pt. Lekhram Maharaj. The march was undertaken to recognize the work of the iconic Mahatma (Great Soul) and spread awareness of his teachings of non-violence and peace. Gandhi is known as Apostle of Peace. Gandhi-ji is known across the world for his unwavering belief in non-violence (Ahinsa) and ‘Swaraj’ (self-governance).
He was born on Oct 2, 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat. Gandhi lived a simple, austere life. His message was hatred and violence would not solve the problems of society. He led the non-violent resistance against British rule in India and was at the forefront of the nation’s freedom struggle. He was often beaten or imprisoned for his resistance to British injustice.
His birth anniversary is usually marked across the globe as the International Day of Non-Violence.
The New York Peace March was organized as usual by the Indo-Caribbean Federation of Hindu Mandirs Inc. USA. The organization is led by former Berbician pandit, Dharamacharya Pt. Rishi Misir, President Pandit Ram Hardowar, and other executive members of the organization. Pandit Ram recognized the work of the executives and mandirs for putting together the march and program. Pandit Baya formerly of Black Bush and Port Mourant walked barefooted as Gandhi for the mile long journey. There were representatives from numerous mandirs and organizations as well as community advocates Romeo Hitlal and Albert Baldeo and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and several politicians vying for elective office. Elections is on the first Tuesday on November for the City Council.
The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi to give a message of peace and harmony. At the Tulsi Mandir, there were speeches on the enduring legacy of the life and teachings of the Father of the Indian Nation as well as a cultural variety show. Several community leaders delivered remarks, quoting and drawing lessons from Gandhi. Speakers implored that people should model their lives after Gandhi and heed his message of peace. In light of the violence that is destroying lives and infrastructure, it is very important to uplift the values and ideas of Gandhi, they stressed. Gandhian ideas of sustainable development is apt for the time. Non-violent revolution can defeat growing hatred. Hate and division can be defeated by following the path of non-violence.
The cultural program was emceed by Bahen Vedo Basdeo and Pandit Ganesh Ramshai. The program included classical dances and bhajans of members of several mandirs. There were some beautiful renditions including one from the well-known Latchman Budhai and a bhajan from Chander Mohan of India who sang a popular tribute to Gandhi. Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar delivered the keynote address, mesmerizing the gathering.
In her remarks, she praised the work of Indo-Caribbean organizations and the Indo-Caribbean people as well as Americans in keeping the values of Gandhi alive. Several speakers noted that prominent Americans, including Martin Luther King, was influenced by the work of the Mahatma.
The highlight of the Peace March was the award of the 2021 Gandhi Peace Prize to Srimati Deepa Omela, a Berbician who studied Hindi, Education and Gandhism under a scholarship program in India. She is from Durga Mandir of Bronx where tens of thousands of Guyanese are settled.
Several Hindu organizations (Mandirs) was recognized with plaques for distinguished community service over the years.
Bhai Doodnauth delivered a vote of thanks.
The Gandhi Peace march was initiated by prominent community advocate and executive member of Tri-Murthi Mandir Dr. Dhanpaul Narine some 26 years ago.
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