Nov 15, 2019
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Attendees of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birthday celebration hold candles and recite the Pledge Against Hate at the Peace Garden on Wednesday, Oct. 2 (Jennifer Reyes/The Collegian)

Fresno State community holds celebration for Gandhi’s 150th birthday

resno State held a floral and musical tribute in honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the Peace Garden. The celebration featured many individuals from around the Central Valley reading poems and giving remarks for the occasion.

The celebration consisted of performances, such as the Raging Grannies who sang peace songs; an Indian classical dance by Samyukta Jayakrishnan; and Gandhi’s favorite song performed by Dr. Asarualislam Syed, a neurologist and psychiatrist in Bakersfield, California, and founder of the Jannat Pakistan Party. 

Two members from the Indian Student Club first opened up the celebration with a song. 

The event also featured light refreshments, such as ice water, lemonade and cookies placed out on a table. Attendees gathered around Gandhi’s monument in rows of chairs in honor of the celebration.

Gandhi was an Indian lawyer who fought for civil rights for the people of India with a nonviolent resistance, helping to lead the independence of India against the British rule. 

He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom around the world. 

“Gandhi is considered the father of human rights movements in the 20th century because he actually started this civil rights in India, telling the colonial powers that ‘You are violating the human rights of the people,’” said Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, a philosophy professor at Fresno State.

Kapoor led the garlanding ceremony and stated that the flowers represent the gesture of our love and affection that we want to express. This is a cultural tradition that has been brought to campus.  

Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Dr. Veena Howard, philosophy professor at Fresno State; Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate; Debroah Adishian-Astone, vice president for Administration and Chief Financial Officer; Dr. Francine Oputa, director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center and others faced Gandhi and were led by directions of Kapoor to slowly move toward the monument and place the garland onto Gandhi. 

“I loved this event,” Herrera said. “It is celebrating the 150th birthday of Gandhi, and the people that came kind of created the spirit of Gandhi.” 

The celebration ended with the crowd forming a circle while holding a candlelight around Gandhi’s monument for a Pledge Against Hate. 

Kapoor led the pledge, having all the attendees stand up and create a circle in unity. Everyone repeated the words of “Pledge Against Hate.” 

Each attendee had an opportunity to place a flower onto Gandhi’s monument as the night was coming to an end.  

“We really want to share Gandhi’s change of principle with the campus community, the younger people and also carry on what work has been done by Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Jane Adams,” Kapoor said. “We want our students to learn about the lives and legacy of these great people because they worked very hard. They gave their lives for us. What we are enjoying today, in my opinion, is the hard work of these great icons, great leaders of peace, nonviolence, and human rights and social justice.”  

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