Memorial events culminate with TV special
Two-year Gandhi commemoration reaches climax
The actual date of birth was October 2, 1869, and thus October 2, 2019 saw the 150th birth anniversary of the lawyer, politician, social activist and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India, culminating in his being considered the Father of the Nation. And now, October 2, 2020, sees the completion of two years spent celebrating that 150th birthday of a name that still rings loudly through the ages, esteemed for the doctrine of satyagraha, or non-violent protest, to attain political and social progress for his country.
The Government of India decided in 2018 to commemorate this 150th anniversary of Mahatma (“Great Soul”) Gandhi for a period of two years from October 2, 2018 to October 2, 2020 at national and international level to propagate his message. A National Council including the President, Prime Minister and all state Chief Ministers of India was set up. In Hungary, the Embassy of India wholeheartedly participated over the full two years, organising a series of events to mark the auspicious occasion.
The Ambassador to Hungary, His Excellency Kumar Tuhin, explains: “India proudly celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, one of its most illustrious sons, on October 2, 2019. The Embassy of India in Budapest organised a series of events and activities to mark this important milestone over the two-year period from October 2018 to October 2020, and did so in a way so as to bring out the message of Mahatma on a diverse range of topics, such as sustainability, education, non-violence, vegetarianism, gender equality, etcetera.
“What Mahatma Gandhi preached and implemented is as relevant and salient today as it was during his lifetime. His revolutionary ideas ought to be considered again by the world to solve social and personal conflicts confronting us today, including through adapting these to contemporary realities if required.”
The embassy’s series of memorial events culminated this October 2, 2020 with a special programme on leading Hungarian television channel hírTV. In the programme Ambassador Tuhin spoke extensively on the philosophy of Gandhi and the significance of commemorating this day the world over. Dr. Gabor Sonkoly from ELTE University shared his own experiences of Gandhi and artist Panni Somi focused on how her life has been influenced by the Mahatma and the idea behind a dance drama that was created for the program.
The dance drama was the work of the Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre at the Indian Embassy in Budapest’s District II, and saw 11 artists collaborating to create a melodious performance depicting Gandhi’s philosophy of truth and non-violence that helped India free itself from British colonial rule on August 15, 1947.
The drama featured major forms of classical dance from India such as Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Kathak, presented with live music on sitar, violin and tabla. Veteran artists from Hungary participated including Dr. Chirayu Bhole, Szabi Toth, Zoltan Lantos, Túri Virág Réka, Szegedi Anita, Dr. Neethu Mohan, Somi Panni, Pethő Kincső and Rukmini Zsófia.
As the dancing proceeded, a live painting was being done on the spot by artist Pallavi Majumder who created a collage of Gandhi.
The embassy’s commemorations were inaugurated on October 2, 2018, in the Hungarian Parliament with a floral tribute by Speaker László Kövér in the presence of Ambassador and other MPs. They displayed Indian postage stamps honouring Gandhi, and Ankita Sood, Teacher of Indian Culture in Budapest, conducted a yoga session to de-stress the parliamentarians.
Kövér released a video by Hungarian singer Jennifer Mágá performing “Vaishnava Jana Toh”, Gandhi’s favourite bhajan, or devotional song, with filming having been done at prominent Budapest locations such as the Chain Bridge, Buda Castle, Heroes Square, Gellért Hill and so on. The introductory celebration continued into the evening when Buda Castle was lit up by a LED projection of slides on the life and teachings of the Mahatma, projected on the facade of Buda Castle (and suitably translated into Hungarian).
A vegetarian food festival later recalled Gandhi’s remark that “The most violent weapon on earth is the table fork”, after he became a vegetarian because he believed inherent violence was involved in eating meat, and non-violence could be achieved by abstaining from it.
In February 2019, Magyar Posta issued a commemorative stamp on Gandhi, producing 40,000 copies of a miniature sheet designed by graphic artist Eszter Domé. The sheet contains four identical stamps showing the Mahatma in Namaskar posture, the non-contact Hindu greeting that brings the palms of the hand together before the face.
Former Prime Minister of Hungary Péter Medgyessy wrote an article titled “What Gandhi means to me”. Medgyessy is described as an India lover and is behind the Foundation for Traditional Indian Medicine for the Public Health in Hungary, promoting the alternative Ayurveda medicine system.
A “Khadi Exhibition” at the Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre in collaboration with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission of India highlighted men’s and women’s apparel such as wraps, woollen and silk stoles, handkerchiefs, Nehru caps and other items made from the hand-spun and hand-woven natural fibre cloth that became a symbol of Indian national identity.
The exhibition showed how Gandhi used the portable spinning wheel known as a charkha to spin thread and make his own clothes while he was a political prisoner in Pune’s Yerwada jail in the early 1930s. A simultaneous photographic exhibition showed facets of his values, beliefs and philosophy.
Commemorations continued through 2019 and 2020 with memorial speeches, lectures, film showings and “webinars” on his influence, a digital translation of his work “Satyagraha in South Africa”, where he was an attorney, for distribution to educational institutions, plus an online “Know Gandhi” quiz, a cycling event for hundreds of riders and the planting of 150 saplings at Somogyvámos (Krishna Valley) on World Environment Day 2019.
Ambassador Tuhin has visited the Gandhi School of Pécs, University of Pécs, Széchenyi István University in Győr, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Eötvös Loránd University and John Wesley Theological College, Budapest, among others on various occasions to spread the word.
One notable contribution to the commemoration was made by the Mayor of District II who made a video sharing his thoughts on Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi died on January 30, 1948 and is particularly remembered each October 2.
You can watch additional videos about Gandhi’s friendship with Tagore, Gandhi’s associates, quotations from Gandhi, the Salt March, Gandhi’s march against the unjust laws of the South African government, the epic march of Noakhali and his Last Journey.
Flowers for Gandhi
Ambassador Tuhin continues the commemoration
Ambassador Tuhin and the Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre performers
Buda Castle lights up, October 2, 2018
The Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre's dance drama for hírTV