Celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s Sesquicentennial as 1000 Lights for Peace and Walk for Peace on Sunday, October 6, 2019 at the Miller Outdoor Theatre marked the conclusion of yearlong celebrations in Houston. It all began with grand opening of celebrations at Asia Society on September 30, 2018.
The gorgeous day started with 5K Walk for Peace through beautiful Hermann Park led by Harris County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Rodney Ellis, as the Grand Marshal. The walk began from the Miller outdoor Theatre with a thunderous send-off by the talented Katy Stockdick Junior High School band directed by George Liverman and Dholi Mr. Chidanand Singh.
Krishna Vavilala and Ram Ramanathan dressed as Mahatma Gandhi lifted the spirits of the walkers. They paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi with garlanding his statue in the Hermann Park.
The 1000 lights for Peace program started at 6 pm with a moment of silence in honor of fallen Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.
Connie Elliott of Contemporary Handweavers of Houston then gave a live, on-stage demonstration of the Charkha, a symbol of self-reliance, perseverance and determination as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birthday. As the Charkha demonstration was going on a multi faith invocation took place that was coordinated by Rev Gregory Han and carried out by Dr. Sushma Mahajan, Dr, Alejandro Chaoul, Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, and Dr. Kashan Ishaq.
Dr. Manish Wani, the lively emcee, kept the evening flowing with historical perspectives on not only Mahatma Gandhi, but also social reformers including Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Gandhi Darshan Exhibit portraying the chronologic lifetime of Gandhiji with actual photographs from that era was also on display as were booths for arts and crafts and henna painting, which the children line up for. The Vegan Society for Peace and Unity Houston also had tables with information about their respected organization.
The invocation was followed by a calm, mind-soothing meditation from GROW Unity by Mystic Taout Thanet. Swar Sangam, led by the talented Smriti Srivasatva, sang a medley of two songs, Maithreem Bhajata (Sanskrit for cultivate friendship and humility, which conquers the heart of everyone) and Vande Matram.
Ayushi Kawedia and Nathan Ndisang, winners of the age 10 and under group speech contest, inspired the crowd by reciting their winning speech “My Dream of World Peace.”
Next was a colorful performance by Ambassadors International Ballet Folklorico titled La Iguana and Salida Veracruz, dances from Mexico.
Anusha Sathya, a senior from Seven Lakes High School KISD treated the crowd to her brilliant winning speech in the 11 and over age group describing “Eternal Gandhi Museum: what I’d like to see.”
The D.A.V. Montessori and D.A.V.Elementary students from Arya Samaj of Greater Houston presented a spectacular dance: Peace and Harmony.
Mayor Sylvester Turner, who visited the Eternal Gandhi Museum in Delhi last November, addressed the audience regarding the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi and the upcoming projects in the city of Houston, including the excitement for the Eternal Gandhi Museum.
Mayor Turner then presented awards to more than 30 student winners of the city-wide contests held by Mahatma Gandhi Library.
Mayor Sylvester Turner with the winners of Mahatma Gandhi Week 2019 Speech, Creative writing, Multimedia and Poster contests.
Paraluman dazzled the crowd with an authentic Filipino dance with colorful costumes and candle lights.
Dr. Wani then made the presentation on Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston slated to open in summer of 2021. A video was shown of Prime Minister of Bharat, India, Shri Narendra Modi unveiling the plaque of groundbreaking for the museum during his visit to Houston for Howdy Modi event in September, 2019.
Dance of Asian America dazzled the audience with 2 Chinese dances titles “Seeking Songbirds” and “Petals of Poetry.” This was followed by Kouman Ke’le’ African Dance and Drum Ensemble who gave a dynamic and energetic performance.
Unity Choir, directed by Dr. David York, shared three songs with the audience starting with “I am determined.”
Honorable Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray, addressed the audience with a humble request to keep the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi alive and gave his hearty congratulations for all the relevant activities of the Indo-American diaspora in Houston.
The Keynote Speaker for the evening Dr. Stephen Klineberg, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Rice University, gave an informative message about the diversity of Houston and ongoing trends in the Houston metropolitan area.
The students of Anjali Center of Performing Arts, directed by Dr. Rathna Kumar, performed a classical Indian dance to a melodious tune and presented Salt Satyagraha, through dance and mime.
The spectacular evening concluded with the lighting of a candle by all as a symbolic pledge to observe peace in their own lives. The crowd reflected on how to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s life listening to the soothing song “Imagine” by John Lennon and the soundtrack of “Jyot se Jyot.”
To learn more about Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston and all its activities, please visit egmh.org or contact Dr. Manish Wani at 713-829-6979.