BUENA PARK, Calif. — Over a hundred enthusiastic people gathered Sept. 28 to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at the Jain temple here, which event included a peace march and talks to commemorate the leader who had spearheaded India’s independence.
Several organizations came together for celebration, which was organized by the Jain Center of Southern California along with the Anekant Community Center, Gujarati Society of Southern California and Sanatan Dharma Temple, while over 25 organizations like the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, National Federation of Indian American Associations and Chinmaya Mission of Los Angeles participated in the peace march.
The formal proceedings opened with the chanting of the Navkar Mantra and a rendering of “Raghu Pati Raghav,” the bhajan that has come to be synonymous with Gandhiji.
Dr. Jasvant Modi, president of JCSC, while asserting that Ahimsa was the founding principle of Jain Dharma, offered insights on how Gandhiji had also made it a central tool in the independence movement.
Dr. Varun Soni, dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California who was the featured speaker, said: “Ahimsa is no more just a Jain idea, it’s a global idea.” Gandhiji’s legacy for Indian Americans, he said, is to be a global citizen, the very epitome of Ahimsa.
Emphasizing a spiritual approach to non-violence, he said that Martin Luther King, Jr., had understood this and had made the process as important as the goal. The way to transform the world is by transforming ourselves, he noted. Gandhiji led a movement that did just that, so it would collectively lead to change in the world.
However, he addd: “Despite Gandhi being on every currency note, India has a very well developed army, massive defense spending and it seems that as much as Indians love to celebrate Gandhi, it’s not necessarily Gandhism, and his message of non-violence.”
Avinder Chawla, Irvine city commissioner who represented the Sikh community at the event, while praising Gandhiji also requested the audience to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the killing of police officer Sandeep Dhaliwal while in the line of duty in Houston.
Consul General Sanjay Kumar Panda also had the audience observe a moment’s silence for GOPIO founding member and community leader Inder Singh.
Singers Arvind Joshi, Ami Mehta & Group, and Nauzad of Tarkash Entertainment rendered patriotic songs on the occasion, whileDr. Sinduri Jayasinghe entertained with a dance performance.
Concluding the day-long program, Dr. Nitin Shah left the audience to ponder over the “seven dangers to human life” as enumerated by Gandhiji: Wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; religion without sacrifice, and politics without principles.