Events galore for ‘Gandhi Legacy Month’ in New York

April 7th, 2008 - 9:06 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 7 (IANS) Mahatma Gandhi’s message of social change through non-violence is at the centre of many events organised in New York for ‘Gandhi Legacy Month’, the highlight being Philip Glass’ opera “Satyagraha”. The Satyagraha Forum kicked off the programme Sunday with a walk that congregated at Gandhi’s statue at Union Square in Manhattan. Devotional songs dear to the Mahatma were recited and speakers talked about the continuing relevance of his message of ’satyagraha’ (force of truth) today.

The Forum, a collaboration of several cultural, environmental, educational and spiritual institutions, is coordinating the event to mark the 60th anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination and 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s slaying in April 1968. King, a pivotal leader of the civil rights movement in the US, was vastly influenced by Gandhi.

The satyagraha-themed events include art and photographic exhibitions, panel discussions and film shows to highlight various approaches to satyagraha and its applications to world problems today.

Glass’ landmark 1980 work “Satyagraha” opens April 11 for seven shows at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Centre. It is set to Sanskrit text from the Bhagavad Gita and is a moving account of the Mahatma’s formative experiences in South Africa, which transformed him into a great leader who won the freedom for India.

The Garrison Institute’s Initiative on Transformational Ecology explores satyagraha in the new context of climate change. Its April 11-13 events include a retreat and a public event featuring Rajmohan Gandhi, the Mahatma’s biographer and grandson, A.T. Ariyaratne, founder of the Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka and Glass.

Making the connection between satyagraha and ecology, Glass said: “If we treated the environment with non-violence we wouldn’t have the polar ice cap melting away.”

Arun Gandhi, the Mahatma’s other grandson and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence in New York, welcomed the events in town, but told IANS: “We had planned a march in early April on the occasion, which was disallowed by authorities fearing that it could turn into an anti-war march.”

Tamarind Arts Council will hold a photographic exhibition, “Gandhi: The Legacy”, from April 10 to May 3, at its gallery in Manhattan. The exhibition features some iconic images of Gandhi and captures key events from his life along with rarely seen family portraits.

The Asia Society and Syracuse University will have a panel discussion on Gandhi’s legacy that will include Glass, the society’s president.

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