OLEAN — On Tuesday, a birthday will be celebrated that has been 150 years in the making.
The Hindu Society of Olean and Allegany, in collaboration with the Olean Meditation Center, will mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — better known to history as Mahatma Gandhi.
The celebration will take place at 7 p.m. at the Olean Meditation Center, 2275 Dugan Road.
In the spirit of Ghandi’s nonviolent activism, the Hindu Society earlier this month invited high-schoolers in the 14 schools across Cattaraugus County to write an essay on nonviolence.
The contest is intended “to stimulate their interest in nonviolence, especially in the current hostile climate we live in,” said Srinivas Thandla, president of the Hindu Society. “Every day you open the paper and you read about violence, gun violence in particular … we wanted to get kids to think about it.”
Three essay winners will be named during the birthday anniversary celebration, and winners will be presented with monetary awards of $250, $100 and $50 for first, second and third place respectively. The winning essay will be published in a future edition of the Olean Times Herald.
Barry Gan, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure University, will speak at the birthday anniversary celebration, which is open to the public. His talk will be followed by questions and answers as the audience will be encouraged to speak on their thoughts of Ghandi’s message in today’s world as well.
Clips from the movie “Gandhi” will be shown, and he will be honored with the singing of a selection of his favorite songs. A short meditation session will also be conducted.
According to Indiacelebrating.com, Ghandi was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on Oct. 2, 1869. After schooling in India, he went to England to study law, and upon returning to India, he began representing people who were “humiliated and insulted” by British rule over their country.
Ghandi, a freedom fighter and “non-violent activist who always followed non-violence all though his life … started a powerful and non-violent movement to make India an independent country.”
In 1948, he was assassinated by a Hindu activist.
Ghandi, in foreseeing his future, said “When I am dead and buried, I will speak from my grave.” He does that, as his message continues to be the message of hope for nonviolence for the people of the world.