Gandhi society sponsors birthday celebration


Gandhi supporters met on campus near the Gandhi statue Oct. 2, singing songs and presenting speeches about the beliefs and teachings of the peaceful leader.

The group met for International Non-Violence Day, which is also Gandhi’s birthday. The celebration was a reminder that the core teachings of Gandhi were non-violence, truth and peace, according to the Gandhi Memorial Society.

The festivities, sponsored by the Jacksonville society, were hosted by UNF’s International Center for Promotion, Education and Advancement of Cultures and Ethnicities (P.E.A.C.E.) and the student organization, Ospreys for Peace.

Ashok Bazaz, president of the Gandhi Memorial Society, said it is important for college students to be aware of Gandhi’s teachings.

“Gandhi’s message, in one form or another, is reverberating today and will continue to influence and inspire future generations,” Bazaz said. “UNF is an institute of education. It should be an institute of inspiration.”

The events included an 11 a.m. ceremony where a garland was placed on the statue, which is done yearly for respect and honor, Bazaz said.

UNF’s Vice President and Chief of Staff Tom Serwatka was also presented a plaque by Viswayogi Viswamjee Maharaj, a spiritual humanist who spoke at the event.

The sculptor of the campus statue, Jasu Shilpi, visited UNF for the second time to attend the celebration.

Shilpi has created more than 185 full-size statues and 505 bust-size statues in bronze, including additional statues of Gandhi, other leaders of India, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein and Bill Gates.

During the event, Kamele “Oupa” Seane, director of the International Center for Peace, applied Gandhi’s lessons to Jacksonville crime, urging something needs to be done to rid the city of violence.

“It isn’t just the president’s job or the police’s job. It is everyone’s job,” Seane said. “Little events like this may seem insignificant, but each time one person is touched, things are possible.”

Joel Crandall, president for Ospreys for Peace, also spoke of the importance of Gandhi’s teachings of peace and non-violence.

“The American youth is bred to think war is necessary,” said Crandall, a senior political science major. He added that both sides of the spectrum need to be seen.

An evening celebration concluded the event and included a violin recital by Garima Gupta.

Future plans are being drafted for Shilpi to sculpt a statue of Martin Luther King Jr.

E-mail Gabrielle DeCristofaro at [email protected]