Shraddhanjali 2017: A Memorial Service

Shraddhanjali 2017

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi who spread the message of truth, non-violence, and global peace, died on January 30, 1948. Mahatma Gandhi Library (MGL) in collaboration with Unity of Houston (Unity) commemorated Shraddhanjali, a memorial service, on Saturday, February 4, at Unity of Houston.

Mahatma Gandhi said “I shall conquer untruth by truth.  And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”  He was never afraid of death. Currently, the world is encountering several challenges including intolerance, impatience, and terrorism. Hence, it is essential to follow the ideas and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, especially truth and non-violence, not only to achieve international peace and prosperity, but achieve the same within one’s own heart.

Mahatma Gandhi Library and Unity of Houston jointly observed Shraddhanajli, Memorial Service, in collaboration with Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, The Ismaili Jamatkhana Center and Brahma Kumaris on Saturday, February 4, at Unity of Houston. It was the commemoration of the 69th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

MGL is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the universal values of truth, non-violence, love and service. The library was started almost twelve years ago by the vision and dedication of Atulbhai Kothari and today, with many dedicated volunteers, their worthy efforts continue.

The Shraddhanjali program started at 3:00 pm with a gracious welcome by Rev Mindy Lawrence, Associate Minister at Unity. Rajan Chawla was a brilliant Master of Ceremony for the program, which initiated with an Invocation from Rev Michael Gott, Senior associate minister and choir director at Unity. The program started with a beautiful rendition of the bhajan  Vaishnav Janato by the glittering voice of Smriti Srivastava and her group from Arya Samaj.  The inspiring Unity choir singing John Lennon’s Imagine followed this.

7-year old Naresh Sathya, 2nd place winner of the annual MGL speech contest, delighted the audience with his speech, “Truth: My Story”.  Kamal Haji then conducted the Ismaili Jamatkhana choir in their beautiful rendition of “Lab Pe Aati” bringing tears of joy in the eyes of many in the audience.The Ismaeli Jamatkhana & Center was recognized with a plaque of appreciation to their President, Murad Ajani, by Atulbhai Kothari, trustee of MGL.

Dr. Sulekh Jain then informed the audience of the upcoming 150th year anniversary of Gandhi Jayanti, his birthday, and encouraged all to start getting involved with upcoming Sesquicentennial celebrations. High school student Jai Sehgal presented his awe-inspiring 1st place winning entry in iTribute multimedia presentation entitled “Life of Simplicity.”

The keynote speaker for the program was Rev. Gregory Han of Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston who gave in depth understanding of “the living Gandhi.” It is one thing to admire Gandhi but Living Gandhi not only admires but also practices Gandhi. The program continued with the adorable children from DAV Sanskirti School and DAV Montessori School of Arya Samaj Houston led by Smriti Srivastava, as they sang beautiful bhajans “Hum Ko Man Ki Shakti Dena and “Chhodo Kal Ki Baate.”

Sam Merchant then read out a proclamation by Congressman Al Green, a great follower of Mahatma Gandhi. The audience was then treated to a wonderful dance by the students of Arya Samaj DAVSS, choreographed by Dolly titled Pride of Bharat (India).

Dr. Hansa Raval, the spiritual leader of Houston’s Brahma Kumaris gave her personal insights on how to conquer the world and life using Gandhiji’s principles. Dr. Manish Wani, on behalf of the MGL board of trustees, gave a brief presentation of an exciting opportunity for the city of Houston to bring the Eternal Gandhi Museum from Delhi, India. The audience was then once again treated to the amazing voices of the Unity choir, singing Every Praise.

The program concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Manish Wani, Board member of the Mahatma Gandhi Library. The crowd was encouraged to visit the Gandhi Darshan Exhibit on display and the MGL booth. There was melodious instrumental music in the background while all enjoyed refreshments. The Shraddhanjali program at Unity Houston commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s life was truly inspirational and proved to keep the legacy of peace, truth, non-violence and love alive, penetrating the hearts of all in attendance.