On 2nd October, London marked Mahatma Gandhi's 145th birth anniversary with speeches, bhajans and vedic prayers at Tavistock Square.
The event was attended by the High Commissioner of India HE Ranjan Mathai, Mayor of Camden- Councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli, Deputy Mayor of Ealing, British-Indian MPs and Peers such as Shailesh Vara, Virendra Sharma, Lord Ranbir Suri, Lord Hameed, Chairman of the India League CB Patel, Indian bank heads and other representatives from the Indian community in Britain.
The celebration started with floral tributes followed by speeches by the present dignitaries.
CB Patel, the Chairman of India League told the present audience, “We come here every year twice and it gives us a pause to think what we can do in our small way. 65-70 years when Dr Tarapada Basu, Lord Fenner Brockway, Krishna Menon and others of India League approached the British government, and it was the Government's own vision to respect the person who almost demolished the British empire. Today Mahatma has started walking all the way to Houses of Parliament and in few months we will see him there as well.
“The celebrations of 2 October and 30 January could not have happened without the support of the Indian High Commissioner and Indian High Commission. India League got the statue erected in Tavistock Square, but its the members of the Indian high commission, staff and others who maintain this statue and clean it every year.
I believe Gandhi's message is getting louder clearer more and more all over the world and that is why we are here. Jai Bapu.”
HE Ranjan Mathai said, “It is a wonderful occasion for us to be associated with the India League, with the Mayoralty of this town who remember this extraordinary human being and come here for his birthday. As CB said it's a matter of pleasure and it is good to come and reflect and some aspects on Mahatma's message. I would like to reflect on one theme, what the honourable Prime Minister of India has directed all of us to do and Gandhiji believed you must be the change you want to see in the world. He began at the most humble level and said can't we do something by keeping India cleaner, start with our homes our ways of lives? The PM has started a campaign and where some people have taken on the broom and cleaning the outskirts of their own houses, some are helping with public events, all government offices are having an inspection to see whether basic standard of cleanliness is maintained. We read out a pledge today at the Indian High Commission and we will continue as a continuing exercise.
The Mayor of Camden said, “It's an honour to celebrate Gandhiji's 145th birthday. It is an honour where the statue was unveiled in 1968. Since then many trees, monuments in squares have been dedicated for peace. This square since then has become a place where people from Camden or London come to celebrate peace. Celebrating the life of Gandhi, is celebrating the peace and democracy in the world today.”
Shailesh Vara, MP said “It's a great privilege to be here. Mahatma Gandhi a great humanitarian who has left behind a message of peace and non violence- that echoes in four corners of the world. Great leaders such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and many others have taken to heart Gandhi's message- and have tried to put it into practice.
“I went to Gandhi's ashram in Ahmedabad, during my India visit, where he lived and worked, where leaders of the independence movement came to see him. That was one of the most moving moment of my life.
“I look forward to another additional statue in Parliament Square, where Mahatma Gandhi will stand with other great world leaders. That statue will become another place representative of the message of peace and non-violence of this great human being.”
Lord Hameed said, “This great man Mahatma Gandhi, we can say so much about him, but not say enough. As he rightly said, no caste, creed or colour shall survive in a great nation, any distinction is fairless and to be avoided, democracy should sustain itself, and so should ordinary men. Gandhi stood up for many very ordinary people whom we should not forget.”
Virendra Sharma, MP said, “It's always a great honour to pay respect to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and meet lot of friends who believe in Gandhi's message. The message Bapu gave before India's independence- what kind of India we want to see after freedom, so that India can remain and become the greatest power. I am glad to see that all leaders in India and in other parts of the world, have paid respect to Gandhiji's philosophy.”
Lord Suri, said, “Mahatma Gandhi started his political journey from South Africa. He fought the war of independence without using a gun, with the use of his peaceful philosophy. I have spoken on Gandhiji in East Africa, and I would repeat what I said there. Mahatmaji has learnt his ideologies from all religions. He took a hint from Guru Tegh Bahadur's philosophy- he does not scare anybody, nether he is scared of anybody.”
Photo courtesy: Raj D Bakrania, Prmediapix