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Manchester unveils Gandhi statue on 150th anniversary of his birth
November 25, 2019
Report by the City of Manchester
A multi-faith service and ceremony to unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a pivotal 20th century leader of ideas around non-violent action to pursue political aims, was held in Manchester Cathedral on the 25th November. The statue was donated to the city by the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (SRMD), who highlights the role of Shrimad Rajchandra, Gandhi's spiritual advisor.
Gandhi had visited Manchester and Lancashire in 1931 to meet textile workers. 2019 is the 150th anniversary of his birth. The statue was donated partially as a response to the 2017 Manchester Arena attack as a way to share in the multi-faith and multi-cultural diversity of Manchester. Speaking on behalf of SRMD, Aadit Virani, said that the choosing of Manchester following this attack was to: "show that love and compassion can always overcome hatred." The multi-faith service included music, singing and dance and readings from the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain religious traditions. The Lord Mayor of Manchester also read out a civic prayer in his role as Vice President of Mayors for Peace.
A number of Manchester school children read out their messages for peace and lighted candles to peace, hope and unity. Manchester City Council had assisted SRMD to develop a peace education programme in which 16 schools and 1750 children had taken part, learning Gandhi's values of peace and non-violence. Small maquettes of the statue were presented to the Elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham; to the Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese; and to Manchester City Council officers Sean Morris (the UK & Ireland Mayors for Peace Secretary) and Anissa Keratkhar for their support of this project, as well as to a number of other prominent supporters.
This is the third new public statue in the city in the past 12 months highlighting some of the radical history of the city and the struggle for peace and human rights. These include the unveiling of a statue to Emmeline Pankhurst and the movement for women's suffrage, and a statue for the 200th anniversary of the 'Peterloo' incident calling for universal suffrage. Manchester City Council welcomes these three statues into the city centre as part of its work to be a city of peace.
(Photo Courtesy of Manchester City Council)