MAHATMA Gandhi’s life and legacy were remembered by people across the world on his 150th birth anniversary on Wednesday (2) with several countries, including France and Sri Lanka, releasing commemorative postage stamps and organising events to mark the day.
Indian missions across the world held commemorative events where leaders and civil society members paid floral and musical tributes to Gandhi.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in his message on the occasion, said Mahatma Gandhi pioneered successive non-violent movements that changed history.
“150 years since his birth, Gandhi’s philosophy is at the core of our work at the @UN. May his courage & conviction continue to inspire us on Wednesday’s International Day of Non-Violence & every day,” the UN chief tweeted.
Since 2007, the day is also observed worldwide as the United Nations Day of Non-Violence in commemoration of the great leader who gave the world the message of peace, non-violence and universal brotherhood.
In Sri Lanka, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe unveiled a bronze bust of Gandhi at his official residence ‘Temple Trees’.
The country also issued two commemorative stamps on the occasion.
Celebration of Gandhi Jayanti each year in Sri Lanka is a dual celebration of Gandhi’s birth anniversary as well as the celebration of his connection with Sri Lanka. Country’s northern city of Jaffna has a historical association with Gandhi.
According to historians, Gandhi visited the city in November 1927.
The Jaffna house he stayed has been renovated by the famous Tamil architect Anjalendran. Altogether, there are six statues of Gandhi in Lanka’s northern province.
In Nepal, Gandhi’s first statue was unveiled on the premises of the Indian Embassy in Katmandu.
A fashion show ensembling khadi and handloom couture from India and Nepal was held at the India House in Kathmandu.
Prime minister K P Sharma Oli, speaking at a symposium in Kathmandu on the life of Gandhi, said the world leader’s ideas are equally relevant even today.
He said Gandhi’s ideas and philosophies look always fresh and the cause for which he sacrificed his life, such as peace, non–violence and human values, never get obsolete.
“Gandhi’s non-violent way of freedom struggle has become even more significant in this 21st Century world, which is full of conflict and tension,” Oli said speaking at the programme organised by Nepal-India Friendship Society in collaboration with Indian Embassy.
In China, the celebrations of Gandhi’s birth anniversary, which is held every year since 2005 at a public park in Beijing, was shifted to the Indian Embassy premises in the last minute after the Chinese government denied permission to hold the event.
No explanation was given by the Chinese authorities as to why the permission was not given, Indian embassy officials said.
For the last 14 years, Gandhi Jayanti celebrations were held at the picturesque Chaoyang park after a statue of India’s Father of the Nation sculpted by famous Chinese sculptor Yuan Xikun was installed there.
The popular public park has the only sculpture of Gandhi in China.
Every year the Indian Embassy along with Yuan, who is also the curator of the Jin Tai art museum located in the same park, organises the October 2 event.
Surprisingly, this year the permission was not received though it has been applied well in advance like every year, the officials said.
In Bangladesh, Education Minister Dipu Moni was the chief guest during the celebrations at the Indian High Commission.
Indian envoy Riva Ganguly Das spoke on the occasion and handed over the book, ‘Vaishnav Jan Toh Tene Kahiye’ to acclaimed Rabindra Sangeet singer and ICCR alumni Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya.
Palestine released a commemorative postage stamp on Gandhi, honouring his “legacy and values”, to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the world leader.
Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology Ishaaq Seder released the stamp in the presence of Representative of India in PA Sunil Kumar at a ceremony held at the ministry in Palestine.
The Indian mission in Ramallah has organised several events over the past one year to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, drawing a huge response from all sections of the Palestinian society, especially the youths.
The Indian Embassy in Paris partnered with La Poste of France in launching a postage stamp with the image of Gandhi.
In Britain, people gathered at various locations and sang Gandhi’s favourite bhajans and paid tributes to the leader of the Indian national movement.
The central focus of the celebration in the UK was on the Gandhi statues at Tavistock Square and Parliament Square in London as Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam led tributes to the Mahatma.
Similar floral and musical tributes were held across the country at the Gandhi statues in Leicester, Wales and Scotland.
In Singapore, tributes were paid to Gandhi at Mahatma Gandhi Marker Clifford Pier, where a portion of his ashes were immersed in 1948.
In Japan, the Indian mission organised cultural programmes to mark the day and a Japanese comics Manga was released on the life of Gandhi.
Special exhibitions were organised at the State Duma of Russia where the Indian envoy along with Deputy Chairman of the Duma Sergey Neverov and leaders from all political groups paid tributes to Gandhi.
Commemorative events were also organised in Dubai, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Myanmar, Switzerland and other countries.