Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary: How people across globe celebrated
Washington/Beijing, Oct 2: Mahatma Gandhi's life and legacy were remembered by people across the world on his 150th birth anniversary with several countries, including France and Sri Lanka, releasing commemorative postage stamps and organising events to mark the day.
Indian missions across the world held commemorative events where leaders and civil society members paid floral and musical tributes to Gandhi. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in the US, paid floral tributes to Gandhi's statue in front of the Indian mission in Washington.
"We commemorate the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, whose humanity, ideals, & nonviolent resistance have been an inspiration to the world. To honour his legacy, US Congress signed a bill in 1998 approving the construction of a memorial statue," Alice Wells, the acting Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asian Affairs of the State Department, tweeted.
In his message, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Mahatma Gandhi pioneered successive non-violent movements that changed history. "150 years since his birth, Gandhi's philosophy is at the core of our work at the @UN. May his courage & conviction continue to inspire us on Wednesday's International Day of Non-Violence & every day," he tweeted.
Since 2007, the day is also observed worldwide as the UN Day of Non-Violence in commemoration of the great leader who gave the world the message of peace, non-violence and universal brotherhood. Speaking at a special commemorative event 'Climate Action: Gandhian Ways', President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande said that for the United Nations, almost everything that is fundamental, that the international organization stands for, has prefigured in the work, life and thought of Gandhi
. "It is difficult to say anything new about Gandhi. I do not know any school child anywhere in the world, who has not been inspired by the resoluteness of Gandhi, the idea that the greatest courage is really to be non-violent. This is the utter opposite of a machismo culture," that is being seen as the way forward, he said. Commemorative events were also organised in Dubai, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Myanmar, Switzerland and other countries.
Gandhi's image and the Indian flag were displayed on Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest skyscraper, Wednesday evening. In Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe unveiled a bronze bust of Gandhi at his official residence 'Temple Trees'. The country also issued two commemorative stamps on the occasion. In Nepal, Gandhi's first statue was unveiled on the premises of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. Speaking at a symposium in Kathmandu on the life of Gandhi, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said the Indian leader's non-violent way of freedom struggle has become even more significant in this 21st Century world, which is full of conflict and tension.
In China, the celebrations of Gandhi's birth anniversary, which is held every year since 2005 at a public park in Beijing, was shifted to the Indian Embassy premises in the last minute after the Chinese government denied permission to hold the event. No explanation was given by the authorities as to why the permission was not given, Indian embassy officials said. For the last 14 years, Gandhi Jayanti celebrations were held at the picturesque Chaoyang park after a statue of the Indian leader sculpted by famous Chinese sculptor Yuan Xikun was installed there. The popular public park has the only sculpture of Gandhi in China
. Every year the Indian Embassy along with Yuan, who is also the curator of the Jin Tai art museum located in the same park, organises the October 2 event. Surprisingly, this year the permission was not received though it has been applied well in advance like every year, officials said.
In Bangladesh, Education Minister Dipu Moni was the chief guest during the celebrations at the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
Indian envoy Riva Ganguly Das handed over the book, 'Vaishnav Jan Toh Tene Kahiye' to acclaimed Rabindra Sangeet singer and ICCR alumni Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya. Palestine released a commemorative postage stamp on Gandhi, honouring his "legacy and values", to mark his 150th birth anniversary.
The Indian mission in Ramallah, Palestine has organised several events over the past one year to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, drawing a huge response from all sections of the Palestinian society. The Indian Embassy in Paris partnered with La Poste of France in launching a postage stamp with the image of Gandhi.
In Britain, people gathered at various locations and sang Gandhi's favourite bhajans and paid tributes to the leader of the Indian national movement. The central focus of the celebration in the UK was on the Gandhi statues at Tavistock Square and Parliament Square in London as Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam led tributes to the Mahatma.
Similar floral and musical tributes were held across the country at the Gandhi statues in Leicester, Wales and Scotland. In Singapore, tributes were paid to the Indian leader at Mahatma Gandhi Marker Clifford Pier, where a portion of his ashes were immersed in 1948. In Japan, the Indian mission organised cultural programmes to mark the day and a Japanese comics Manga was released on the life of Gandhi.
Special exhibitions were organised at the State Duma of Russia where the Indian envoy along with Duma's deputy chairman Sergey Neverov and leaders from all political groups paid tributes to Gandhi.