73rd Punya Tithi of Gandhi Ji observed at the Consulate

Shanti Fund and LIMFF organized the multifaith program

By Bakul Matalia

New York: On January 30, Volunteers of Shanti Fund in collaboration with the Long Island Multi Faith Forum (LIMFF) and Consulate General of India, observed the solemn occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 73rd Punya Tithi – death anniversary- at the ballroom of the Consulate here.

Since 2005 Shanti Fund, along with LIMFF, has been marking the day by replicating the Mahatma’s daily morning and evening ritual of multifaith prayers to promote peace, religious harmony, and tolerance. For the first 5 years, this event was held at the Indian Consulate and since 2010, at the Suffolk County Executive Office building in Hauppauge, Long Island, where a life size statue of Gandhiji graces the plaza level. This year it was back to the Consulate. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions only presenters were there in person, some speakers appearing virtually.

Priest Nikhil N. Trivedi recited slokas and Gayatri Mantra.

Consul General Randhir Jaiswal kicked off the event on time at 3 PM with warm welcoming words, emphasizing two qualities of Gandhi Ji – punctuality, and self-discipline.

Arvind Vora, co-founder of Shanti Fund, conducted the program. It began with Gandhi Ji’s favorite bhajan, “Vaishnav Jan Toh” by Ms. Yoomesh Sharma and Adhan-Muslim call to prayer by Imam Ibrahim Atasoy, who was born in Turkey and educated at Al-Azhar, a world renowned Egyptian University.

Imam Ibrahim Atasoy presented Adhan-Muslim call to prayer.

Nitin Ajmera, Chairman of the Board of the Parliament of World Religions, recited “Manglic”, a Jain prayer. Soh Young Lee sang Amazing Grace in Korean, Spanish and English. This Christian favorite was part of Biden’s inauguration. Hindu priest Nikhil Trivedi recited slokas and the Gayatri Mantra. Two Longwood High School students Angad Singh and Arjan Singh Bindra presented Anand Sahib – The Song of Bliss from the Sikh faith.

Rev. JoAnn Barrett, of Gathering of Light Interspiritual Fellowship in Huntington, presented a peace prayer covering all faiths. Chandni Rodriguez honored Gandhiji in yogic gestures and by reciting The Eye of Wisdom poem written by her mother,  Gurani Anjali, who established the first yoga studio on Long Island, in Amityville.  Dr. Yousuf Syed, a physician, Islamic scholar and descendent of the Nizam dynasty of Hyderabad, spoke about the true message of peace according to Islam.

Bakul Matalia, a Shanti Fund volunteer, thanked all the presenters and the Consul General and Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha for being gracious hosts.

The hour long meeting ended with Gandhiji’s other favorite bhajan, Raghupati Raghav Rajaram, recited by Soh Young Lee-Segredo and the audience joining in.

Soh Young Lee sang Amazing Grace and Raghu Pati Raghav.

 

Bakul Matalia, a volunteer of Shanti Fund and member of LIMFF, can be reached at [email protected].

 

Image courtesy of (All photographs: Shanti Fund)

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