Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gandhi Day

It is really special to be in Ahmedabad on Gandhi Jayanti, so close to Gandhiji's ashram. There are always special celebrations and events in honor of Gandhiji. This year there were two at the ashram that I checked out.

In the morning, I took part in the Kisan Swaraj Yatra kickoff. The Yatra's aim was to raise awareness across the country about the troubling practices and policies in India today that threaten food security, environmental health, and farmer's livelihoods. Starting from the Gandhi Ashram, the bus yatra will pick up farmers, farm workers, activists, students, consumers, and others from 20 states till it reaches Rajghat in New Delhi to have the voices heard by the central government.

Kapilbhai was the chief coordinator of the yatra in Gujarat, and he organized a rally and speeches at the ashram, which among others featured the legendary Gujarati farmer Bhaskar Save. Then everyone climbed aboard a fleet of vans and jeeps and set off. As I saw Kapilbhai and others march off on their mission for farmer's "self rule", I thought of Gandhiji's Dandi march.

Later in the afternoon there was a program which brought schoolchildren from all over Ahmedabad (and beyond?) to the ashram for a music concert in honor of Gandhiji. The kicker was that the performing orchestra was an ensemble of musicians from around the country as well as a group of guest musicians from Mexico. For the past few years, on Gandhi Jayanti this program has been a joint endeavor with the people of Mexico to stand together in celebration for Gandhiji. So there were some musicians from Mexico at the ashram to perform, along with the Mexican ambassador, and there was a live two-way webcast to Mexico City where people had gathered around a statue of Gandhiji to remotely participate in the event. Just an incredible idea, Gandhiji would have been happy to see it. I also kept thinking about how much Pancho would love it :)

I also think Gandhiji would have loved the music. The orchestra, with a medley of Spanish guitar and tabla and other instruments, played some of his favorite bhajans and other inspirational and devotional songs. The music was out of this world. I was with Nimo and we both really felt the vibe, we couldn't help but dance and sway to it. There was one Mexican woman with the most amazing angelic voice, she kept taking it higher and higher like she was piercing the sky with her voice. When she wasn't singing, she was dancing along to the instrumental with a Mexican/salsa 4-step. The open air, a pleasantly cool night, the spirit of Gandhiji, the love from strangers from across the world who don't know Hindi but understand the language of Gandhiji's universal message, it made for a really special atmosphere. I'm thankful to have been a part of it. Happy Birthday Gandhiji!

No comments:

Post a Comment