The members of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago celebrated Mahatma Gandhi Ji life on Gandhi Jayanti where the life-size monument of Gandhiji was located in the Heritage Park, Skokie, Illinois on October 02, 2023. Dr. Santosh Kumar, the President of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Dr. Shriram Sonty, Vice President, Mr. Suresh Bodiwala, the Chairman, and Mrs. Dipti Shah, the treasurer of Gandhi Memorial Foundation along with invited guests, Somnath Ghosh, the Counsel General of India, George Van Dusen, the Mayor of Skokie and State Senator Ram Villivalam, Dist. 8, Mr. Prayag Raj, Vedic Acharya and over fifty elderly seniors and staff members from Metropolitan Asian Family Services, Chicago, Niles, and Schaumburg sites got together there to honor and to pay homage to the Father of our Country Mahatma Gandhi, Bapu, with great love, enthusiasm and joy.
In his opening remarks, Counsel Gosh recognized Gandhiji as a political ethicist having an enormous impact all over India and the world. He proudly talked about the impact Bapu had on Martin Luther King, Jr. when he visited India in 1959. He stated that King, Jr. was greatly inspired by Gandhiji and accepted Gandhiji as his spiritual Guru, and acknowledged the fact that Gandhiji was one of the rare people who could say, “My life is my message.” Counsel also mentioned a book, “A Promised Land” written by Mr. Barack Obama when he was the President of the US. He emphasized that President Obama, in the book, talked about someone who asked him that in the entire sweep of human history, if he was to meet one person, who would he like to meet! President Barack Obama’s answer was Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr. Sonty Sriram remembered his visit last year to the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station in South Africa to be a part of Human Rights celebration where Mahatma Gandhi was a victim of racially discrimination and was forcibly removed from a first-class train compartment in 1893. Dr. Sriram sang Gandhi’s favorite Bhajan “Veshnav Jan to Tene re Kahiye je Peed Parayi jane re..e..” as well.
Mayor George Van Dusen recalled a memorable ceremony in 2004 when the life- size statue of Mahatma Gandhi ji “an icon to world peace” was introduced in Skokie Park, with about 1500 people in attendance and a hovering helicopter that dropped rose petals. A unique floral tribute to such an auspicious occasion!
Bodiwala emphasized the fact that Dr. Chandrakant Modi, a prominent member of South Asian Community, Chicago who put forth a great effort in 2004 for having the Gandhiji Statue at the Heritage Park, but because of his ill health, he was not able to join in the event.
All invited guests including the Senator Ram Villivalam and the members of Gandhi Memorial Foundation praised Gandhiji for the kind of man that he was, the man who dedicated his life to the struggle for freedom and justice, the man who advocated for the path of peace, truth, and self-sacrifice, the man who encapsulated the true spirit of humanity and nationalism, the man who drove away the mighty British Empire from India with his non-violent approach, and finally, a man who became famous as a Father of our Country India.
Promoting Gandhian ideals, Dr. Kumar asked everyone to uphold his principles in our personal and societal lives with “Simple living and high thinking” …one person, one town, one country, and finally the whole world can for sure. She gave an example of such a person and admired Dr. Sriram Sonty for living such a life and following Gandhi Bapu’s footsteps. Mr. Raj, Vedic Acharya added the spiritual element to what Dr. Kumar stated and asked everyone to read and follow the philosophy of Gandhiji’s beloved book Shrimad Bhagwat Gita.
MAFS seniors Mrs. Sudarshan Malhotra, Mrs. Rujuta Pancholi, Mr. Mohinder Vaid and others expressed veneration by singing a Bhajan/religious song that Bapu used to sing, “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram..” with great zeal and liveliness. Mr. Vaid showcased Gandhiji’s three monkeys with words, explained the meaning of each monkey’s message, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
Also, he sang a well-known Bollywood song, “Suno Suno Duniavalo Bapu ki ye Amar Kahani.” Mrs. Pancholi remembered Gandhiji as a legendary, historic Patriot who stood for social justice, equality, humanity, and self-reliance and concluded reflecting on Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
MAFS Managers, Mrs. Dipti Shah, Mrs. Jahnavi Bavisi, Mrs. Promila Mehta and Mrs. Mital Patel, with the help of other staff members, successfully managed the entire program very well, including making sure that everyone who was present at the Gandhi Memorial was provided tea and snack boxes as well. The event was concluded with a vote of thanks and appreciation to all by Dr. Santosh Kumar. (Photographs and Report by: Asian Media USA)