Mahatma Gandhi, Bapu (father of the Nation) as he was fondly known, would have been proud. Just before Indian Independence, trying to maintain an undivided India, he had said, “My dear Jinnah, you and I are brothers born to the same mother India”. Observing the melting pot of people gathered at the Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houston for the first inaugural “Pedal for Peace” bicycling ride, he would have perhaps remarked, “these are children born to the same mother Earth”. In an increasingly connected, multi-racial,multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious pluralistic world, a Gandhian philosophy of peace, tolerance,respect for
diversity and Ahimsa (non-violence) are the attributes to cultivate.
An observer would have noticed that there were people of Caucasian, Hispanic, South Asian, African American, Chinese, European, Thai, and Middle Eastern decent. The faces of the riders and the volunteers displayed happiness and pleasure in their shared experience. They bonded basedon humanity, which superseded all other attributes that makeus different. It was as if the United Nations had decided toconduct its session at the Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houston (EGMH) wearing “Pedal for Peace” cycling jerseys.
EGMH is truly grateful to Dr. Nadir and Sakina Ali, shown above, the Coordinators and Architects of this historical bike ride to promote peace and awareness of Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston.
The ride was inaugurated by a co-founder of the Museum, Dr.Manish Wani. A universal prayer was recited, “We pray to the god ofSat (truth), to grant us the boon of Ahimsa (non-violence), in mind, word, and deed”. Atul Kothari, Manish Wani and a few others were among a handful of people who had the audacity to dream of aninstitution to promote truth, peace, harmony and Ahimsa (non-violence). A masterpiece like the Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houstondoes not materialize from a dream alone. It took two decades of perseverance, hard work, and personal sacrifice to make it a reality. It is an enduring gift to Houstonians and the larger world.Those present were mesmerized by its architectural design, outdooratrium featuring Mahatam Gandhi’s statue and exhibits. It is atransformative experience.
Harris County Commissioner, Rodney Ellis spoke to inspire the riders, not just with words but by riding alongside them. The group relished in the opportunity to ride beside a champion of social justice, civil rights,criminal justice reforms, and education not just for Houston, but for thestate of Texas and the United States.
Early October in Houston is one of the best times to take in the outdoors. The grounds of the EGMH are conducive to such pleasure. There are four largeoak trees on the grounds of EGMH that provide a perfect canopy to relax under. The gentle breeze and perfect temperatures were ideal riding conditions. The route included 20- and 40-mile options on well paved and oak treelined streets of Houston, Stafford, Sugarland and Missouri City.
The planning for this ride began over 4 months ago. The endorsement of the founders of the EGMH for the ride was a catalyst in energizing a team ofvolunteers. As many as 16 meetings were held to plan every detail.
Kamal Shah, an experienced rider planned the route. Suzzanne Riggenback was instrumental in sag andrider
support. ManishGupta tookcharge of the reststops, which werethe highlight of this organized ride. Sakina Ali, Kamal and Suzzane prepared the
route signs. Ken Paschall guided the ride committee through his decades of experience with organized rides. Jayant Ramakrishnan orchestrated a team of ride marshals and medics. They were instrumental in getting riders back despite afew mechanicals. All but one rider completed either the 20-
or 40-mile routes.One rider was brought back safely for a mechanical
event by Mahesh Ganapathy, who provided sag support. EGMH boardmember, Ajit Paralkar was the man behind the lens capturing these images. GV Krishnan and Alan Lea did all the background work.Sanjay Jain, a board member of EGMH donated the Subwaysandwiches for the riders and volunteers. Trek bicycles of Houstonprovided on site bike repair. HCA Houston Health care was one of thesponsors of the ride.
Mahatma Gandhi lived a life of simplicity, with respect to ecology andenvironment. A cycling culture in Houston is essential to promote air quality, improve traffic congestion, and reduce global warming from fossil fuel use. Bapu used to walk or use a bicycle. His full restored bicycle now resides at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, India. We hope one day, it will be brought to the Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houston for Americans to view and reflect on the legacy of a man who has inspired our own Dr. MartinLuther King, Jr.
The riders were wearing special jerseys with words of “Pedal for Peace” and “truth alone prevails” as symbol of a new generation of Houstonians, guided by Mahatma Gandhi and committed to fostering peace andnon- violence. It is from those present or their progeny will come many leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, who will preserve this world for generations to come.
At the end of the ride, the participants relaxed under the shade of the Oaks trees,took pictures in the outdoor atrium with thestatue of Mahatma Gandhi. The atrium is aplace of reverence with Mahatma Gandhisurrounded by other world leaders likeNelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr.,Lech Walesa, Betty Williams and MaireadMaguire.
Commissioner Ellis was moved by the occasion. A transforming event like the “Pedal for Peace” ride, dedicated to Gandhian ideals brings out other good ideas. He remarked, “let’s work on a mural indowntown Houston of Mahatma Gandhi andMartin Luther King Jr.” with a banner sayingvisit the Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houston and be transformed. Thecollective joy of those present was palpable.
The volunteers who organized this ride were given a boost of confidence and a renewed purpose to begin work in organizing the second Annual “Pedal for Peace” ride to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday nextyear in October of 2024.
EGMH is Open to The Public
India Independence Day Celebration
A special thanks to (pictured left to right) Krishna Merchant, Pankaj Desai, Khushi Kawedia and Ayushi Kawedia for volunteering at the booth.
EGMH meets Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston received an honored invitation to meet Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian, spiritual leader and an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, Gurudev has inspired millions around the world with a vision of a stress-free, violence-free world.
Pictured left to right: Ajit Paralkar, Rita Kothari, Atul Kothari, Sri Sri Ravi, GV Krishnan, Dr. Bhuvaneshwari Krishnan, Prabha Bala, Sesh Bala and Allen Lea.
Every month we will spotlight one of our amazing EGMH volunteers in the newsletter. This month, we would like to introduce Rani Chilukuri!
Where are you from?
Houston, but originally the Southern part of India. We moved here from Hyderabad in 1976.
Why did you join EGMH?
I like volunteering at this museum as I have been waiting so long for the project to be completed.
What do you like most about volunteering?
I like to meet new people and answer all their questions.
What is the last book that you read?
Becoming Michelle Obama
What is your favorite hobby?
What is the next place on your travel bucket list?
Greece and Barcelona
If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Salad and fruit.
What is one item that you could not live without?
A huge thank you to Rani! We appreciate your continued support and the positive energy you bring to EGMH.
Visit the Museum Giftshop!
Stop by the museum today and visit the gift shop. From jewelry and books to souvenirs and home decoration, the EGMH gift shop has something for everyone!
Cannot make it in-person? Check out www.egmh.org to browse all the special and unique items in the gift shop.
EGMH Partnering with 2023 Jaipur Literature Festival.
Please find the schedule below or click here for more information. Registration is required. On September 15th:
– Afternoon Session followed by an Opening Reception at University of Houston: 3 PM onwards On September 16th:
– Full day of Sessions at Asia Society, Texas: 10 AM – 5:45 PM, followed by a Reception. On September 17th:
– Morning Session at Rothko Chapel: 9 AM onwards
– Reception followed by a Film Screening and a Session at Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston: 5 PM onwards