Gandhi Statue Dedication Ceremony at Hermann Park
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In a solemn ceremony Houston Mayor Bill White and Ambassador Ronen Sen unveiled a lifesize bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the prestigious Hermann Park in downtown Houston. Among other dignitaries were former Mayor Lee P. Brown, who initially approved the project, US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Consul General Skand Tayal. The ceremony was attended by over 1000 Houstonians.
In a moving tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Chief Guest Ambassador Ronen Sen referred to the spiritual link between the Mahatma and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He recalled the historic Salt March at Dandi and its resonance with the courageous Montogemry Bus Boycott against racial segregation in United States. Ambassador Sen emphasized the commonality of the principles and values followed by these two great reformers and their subsequent adoption by President Nelson Mandela in the struggle against apartheid. He said that the Mahatma symbolizes India's unity in diversity and, for the world, the Mahatma was an embodiment of peace and non-violence. Ambassador Sen thanked the city of Houston and the community for coming together to install the statue in the "serene surroundings" of the Hermann Park.
Mayor Bill White in his remarks praised the apostle of peace Mahatma Gandhi and spoke highly about his contributions to tolerance and non-violence and their relevance to the mankind in today's world. Former Mayor Lee P. Brown remembered the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Martin Luther King and how it guided him to adopt non-violence as the means to achieve his goal of racial equality. U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee referred to the strength of peaceful non-cooperation in the struggle against injustice.
The Indian community in Houston had embarked on this project which is dear to their hearts and has an international relevance. Mr. Lachhman Das, President of India Culture Center echoing the sentiments of the community during India's 55th Independence Day Celebration in August, 2002 had declared that the "installation of Mahatma Gandhi Statue" project will be a major goal for ICC, an umbrella organisation of Indian organisations in Houston. Houston's Director of Park & Recreation Department then offered a beautiful site at the "International Sculpture Garden" in Hermann Park.
As a gesture of goodwill and friendship to the people of Houston, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Government of India donated a lifesize bronze statue, which was sculpted by the renowned Indian Sculptor Ram Sutar. He has also sculpted the statue of Mahatma Gandhi that adorns the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta.
Thanks to the individual donors and enthusiastic support from different commercial and social organisations, the dream of the Indian-Americans in Houston has finally came true on 2nd October, 2004. The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled reminding Houstonians of the Indian legacy of peace and non-violence. Well-known Malyalam film star Ms. Divya Unni was the Master of Ceremonies and President of ICC, Shri Ramesh Cherivirala thanked the community for their support.
The Mayor of Houston declared 2nd October as "Mahatma Gandhi" Day and presented Ambassador Sen with a Declaration of recognition as "Goodwill Ambassador".
Adjacent to a rose garden, the rich granite foundation of the Gandhi statue bears the following inscriptions:-
Mahatma Gandhi said:
"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind"
"I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills"
Albert Einstein on Gandhi: "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth".
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Gandhi: "……..If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought, acted and inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony………….."