By: Mohnish Singh
Mahatma Gandhi’s 75th death anniversary, being commemorated as Martyrs’ Day the world over on Monday, was marked with tributes at the statue of the Father of the Nation at Parliament Square here.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami was joined by community leaders, parliamentarians and Indian diaspora representatives to pay floral tributes and reflect upon the legacy of the Mahatma.
The event began with a minute’s silence as a mark of respect, against the backdrop of the chimes from the Big Ben, or the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster.
“It’s always a poignant moment to remember Mahatma Gandhi on the day of his martyrdom,” said Doraiswami in his address to the gathering.
“Mahatma Gandhi‘s message was his life and his life was his message. To be able to do what he did and to live it on a daily basis ought to be an inspiration to all of us,” he said.
Lord Meghad Desai, Founder of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust — the organisation behind the charity drive which resulted in the statue being unveiled at the iconic London square in 2015, reflected upon the symbolism of the sculpture facing the UK’s Parliament complex.
“London had a special meaning for the Mahatma and for us, it’s a special meaning that he is here at Parliament Square staring at the Parliament for which he made a lot of trouble (during the independence movement). It’s a great place to honour and remember him,” said Desai.
“Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t just an Indian icon but is a global icon as a symbol of freedom, unity and equality in the world,” noted Lord Rami Ranger, founder of the British Sikh Association.
The Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the UK, Saida Muna Tasneem, spoke of the Gandhian influence on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibir Rehman.
“In Bangladesh, we believe in the Mahatma’s message of Ahimsa or non-violence and Satyagraha, which means passive and peaceful resistance. That is the ideology that our Founding Father, Bangabandhu who was a Gandhian at heart, believed in,” she said.
The Gandhi Memorial Event at Parliament Square was organised as a diaspora-wide commemoration of Martyrs’ Day in the UK by the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, backed by the Indian High Commission in London.