International Ahimsa Foundation USA celebrated Non Violence “A Message of Lord Mahavir” on his 2618th birth anniversary and also commemorated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The event was held at the Consulate General of India in New York, The Master of Ceremonies were Shanie Persaud, Adeen and Shelly Jain. The event began with the American National Anthem sung by Shruti Goyal and followed by the Indian National Anthem by melodious Dr. Smita Guha.
Over 200 guests attended the event from the Indian American community, foreign press, and diplomatic missions and consulates from Italy, Bangladesh, Japan, Georgia and Indonesia.
The evening was graced by distinguished special guests. Among them were the Hon. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Guest Speaker Professor Lawrence A. Babb of Amherst College, Jessica Schaowski, Mayor’s office representative, Hon. Assemblyman David Weprin, and Hon. NYS Senator John Liu, Hon. NYS Senator Kevin Thomas and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives to posthumously present the Congressional Gold Medal to Mahatma Gandhi in recognition of his promotion of nonviolence, said Gandhi has been a “truly inspirational leader, historic figure”.
Mahatma Gandhi was “transformational in so many ways” and an inspiration to all Americans and people across the world, Maloney said. She said Mandela and King both attributed their philosophy of non-violence and their leadership to Mahatma Gandhi and both are recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Already Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King have received the Medal. It’s only right that the inspirational leader for both of them was Mahatma Gandhi and so he should receive this award,” Congresswoman added.
Ms. Maloney, who spearheaded efforts to have the US Postal Service issue the first Diwali Stamp, urged members of the Indian-American community to reach out to the Congress members and friends across the nation to co-sponsor the legislation to honor Gandhi with the Congressional medal.
“We are working to get the Senate sponsor. We must pass it this year and honour his leadership and his gift to the world,” she said, adding that “we should all work together and have a day of National Service in this special year for Gandhi and to remember him, she said.
“There is not enough that we can do to remember and say thank you to Gandhi for his life’s work, for his gift of non-violent ways of handling problems.” Gandhi brought independence to India with non-violence and recognizing his contributions to values in America, Ms. Maloney said she introduced the bill last year to give him the greatest honour that can be bestowed by the US Congress on an individual.
The medal will “honour his leadership” and his gift to the world of inspiring with his principles of non-violence, Maloney echoed. Other keynote speakers were the Hon, Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty and Samani Malay Pragyaji and Samani Neeti Pragyaji of Jain Vishwa Bharati of North America.
Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty said Gandhi himself was deeply influenced by the work and principle of civil disobedience of American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, emulating it in his life. “Gandhi was deeply influenced by Thoreau and it shows in his life and work. Our freedom fighters were also deeply influenced by the American independence movement and the Constitution,” he said.
Maloney added that India and the US, the world’s largest democracy and the oldest democracies, have several commonalities, share the same values and have been allies across the spectrum. She said that paying homage to the memory and teachings of Lord Mahavir, she said she was not aware that one of Mahavir’s most important message is ‘Live and let live.’ “This slogan is one of the most famous quotes in America.”
The celebration of Non Violence ‘A message of Lord Mahavir and Mahatma Gandhi began with a lamp lighting ceremony with Navkar Mantra by Samani Malay Pragyaji and Samani Neeti Pragyaji joined by the distinguished guest and Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty, Mrs Taruna Chakravorty and Dr. Neeta Jain, President and Founder of International Ahimsa Foundation.
Dr. Neeta Jain gave welcome remarks and reiterated the importance of Non Violence and teachings of Lord Mahavir and Mahatma Gandhi, now more than ever before, and emphasized why and what motivated her to start the IAF organization.
Dr. Jain, the only female Indian-American elected official in New York City, was recently nominated by the Consul General of India in NY, Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, and was honored by the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York, Inc. on International Women’s Day for her tireless work in the South Asian Community. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was the special guest of the evening, joined Consul General Chakravorty and Dr. Neeta Jain, and other distinguished guests in the lamp lighting ceremony.
Consul General Chakravorty was the keynote speaker and Professor Lawrence A. Babb the guest speaker who delivered special remarks and was honored by IAF and CG of India for his scholarship and research work on India. Special remarks also delivered by Jessica Schaowski, the Mayor’s office representative, Hon Assemblyman David Weprin, Senator John C Liu, Kevin Thomas and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Samani Malay Pragyaji and Samani Niti Pragyaji of Jain Vishwa Bharati of North America also delivered special remarks and graced the evening with Shanti Ki Preksha (Peace Meditation) chants along with the guests.
The guests were entertained by colorful cultural performances throughout the evening by artists and performers from Manglastak Rhythm Dance Academy by Angel Shah, Saurya Doshi, Siddharth Doshi and Shiv Ajmeri and Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram Mahatma Gandhi’s prayer song by United Nations International School, directed by Ms. Ellen Cava.
Hon. Judge Deborah Taylor of The Honorable Society of the Inner Temple presented a video telecast commentary on Mahatma Gandhi.
Consul General Chakravorty, along with Dr. Jain and Vice President of IAF Dr. Raj Bhayani honored the dignitaries –NYS elected officials and the distinguished guests from the diplomatic community CG of Bangladesh Sadia Faizunnesa, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN Toshiya Hoshino and Mrs. Hoshino, Ms. Annavaleria Guazzieri, Head of Education Section, Consulate General of Italy to NY, Mr. Giampiero Biagioli, Prof of Linguistics at Rutgers University Italian Studies, Civil Servant at Italian Foreign Ministry, Ms. Emanuela Costa, Italian Language teacher, and Selene Candido, Italian language teacher at Scuola d’ Italia with a shawl and IAF Prayer book.
The finale performance Ghoomar was presented by Rhythm Dance Academy. Artists Khushi Ojha, Jigna Ojha, Nidhi Parikh, Aditi Parikh, Krishna Patel, Jedlina Sarita, Ashmita Saha and Krisha Patel captivated the audience. Vice President of IAF Dr. Raj Bhayani delivered acknowledged the presence of Foreign media from Italy, US, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, China, South Africa, Poland and India.
Dr. Jain gave special thanks to the Consul General and his staff who worked tirelessly and gave unprecedented full support to organize and hosted the IAF Non Violence event and the presence of all elected officials and all guests who were present. The event was generously supported by the media sponsors JITO, JAINA, South Asian Times, TV Asia, PTC, ITV Gold and Parikh Media. The evening began with special Jain vegetarian reception and concluded with Jain vegetarian dinner and desserts
International Ahimsa Foundation Inc. was formed in 2012 to spread the message of non-violence and peace from Jain principles to the community. The goal of the foundation has been to promote the teachings of non-violence and peace in thought and action by providing dialogue, peace-building activities, and civic engagement across cultures. The Foundation hopes to encourage students and the community at large to get involved in creating a better world