September 24, 2001

'Gandhi Day' Celebrated

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A crowd of about 50 Cornellians gathered Saturday to promote non-violence by chalking their names into a circle of peace on Ho Plaza for the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Day Service.

Gandhi Day is a nationwide event that is recognized by colleges around the country to honor Mahatma Gandhi in the name of community service.

Karan Suri ’02, president of Society for India, said in his opening speech that the rally’s purpose was to “celebrate the life, memory, teachings and example of one of the most important leaders of our time with peace, unity and nonviolence.”

This is the first year that Society for India has sponsored a large event in commemoration of Gandhi Day.

Considering the recent attacks on America, Society for India felt it was important to include other South Asian groups on campus in the rally.

Other groups that participated included AWAAZ: The Pakistani Students Association, the Muslim Educational and Cultural Association, the Sikh Association and Bhakti: Society for Hindu Cultural Awareness.

Usman Chaudry ’04, president of the Pakistani Students Association, called upon participants to “unite [regardless of] race, religion and ethnicity.”

“Mahatma Gandhi’s words of peace are especially applicable today and Sept. 11 was a test of our resolve and dedication to these ideals,” Chaudry said at the gathering.

Shaffique Adam grad spoke for the Muslim Educational and Cultural Association and said, “we were affected as well and we condemn terrorism completely. We simply call for patience without un-judicial use of force.”

Directly following the rally, Society for India, along with the other participating groups, sent around 50 volunteers to work on various community service projects in the Ithaca area.

The volunteers worked with Mayor Alan Cohen ’81 to clean up graffiti. They also participated in two projects with the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and joined the American Red Cross in their volunteer efforts.

“We wanted to show our strength as a community and our presence as Cornellians, and this memorial seemed more than appropriate,” said Sudha Mandagopal ’03, the community service liaison of the Society for India.

“It was a good reminder of the Gandhi spirit, which epitomized peace and love,” said Rajani Shenoy ’04.

Kent Hubbell, dean of students, also spoke at the event and urged, “We should [increase] our efforts to be tolerant in the name of Mahatma Gandhi.”

The service ended with Ashwin Patel ’03, president of Bhakti leading those in attendance in a moment of silence, once again joining them as one with held hands.

Archived article by Sarah Willey