International Day of Non-Violence with large Gandhi March from iconic Peace Palace to Grote Kerk The Hague
September 30, 2018 marked the International Day of Non-Violence as many hundreds of different nationalities and ages including over 20 Ambassadors participated in a “Gandhi March” in The Hague.
The event was also a precursor to the commencement of celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi launched by the Government of India on October 2nd in India and abroad.
The Ambassador of India, H.E. Mr Venu Rajamony greeted the large assembly at the historic Peace Palace under a serene blue sky after a performance of Kerala drums and an elegant performance of Onam dance on the luscious green lawn facing the building.
His Excellency, after reminding us of the historical context and incredible significance and achievements of Mahatma Gandhi, highlighted again the immense inspiration he has been for millions worldwide, in his time but also up to this very day. “Today when we gather”, His Excellency stated: “We send a message to the terrorists, that no political goal can ever be achieved through violence. As Mahatma Gandhi said:” he further quoted,” However noble be your end, the means have to be as good”.
The Ambassador firmly believes nonviolence is the only answer and reminded us the world is one and we are united, urging us to:” Move forward standing shoulder to shoulder, walking arm in arm.”
He closed his speech encouraging us to “Take the message of nonviolence to the corners of the world through our actions and our deeds.”
The Ambassador’s speech of welcome was followed by a speech from the spiritual leader from India Sri M, and Deputy Mayor of The Hague Ms. Kavita Parbhudayal before the assembly set out in a spirit of community and harmony on their Gandhi March for the promotion of nonviolence, to the Grote Kerk, behind the banner # Follow the Mahatma.
The rally was led by Ambassadors of the USA, Indonesia, Canada, Ireland, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Lithuania, Romania, Palestine, Cyprus, Italy, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Rwanda, Bosnia & Herzegovina and of course the Ambassador of the organizing country, Mr. Venu Rajamony.
This heart-warming spirit of community and global unity and deep belief in nonviolence as only way to create a better world for us all, resonated further in the very personal, at times emotional speeches held at the Grote Kerk.
The Ambassador of the United States of America Mr Pete Hoekstra, addressed the assembly remarking on the horrific scars left by violence on the land, communities and individuals. “I firmly believe”, he said “that the concept of nonviolence is built into the recognition that every single one of us is special and created in the image of God.” Through Mahatma Gandhi and his inspiration on leading figures having made a positive impact on the world such as Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, we “ learn to recognise that every one of us has special gifts, abilities and talents unique to us and it is the responsibility of every one of us to reach out, recognise and develop those skills we have been endowed with”.
His Excellency left us with a call for action in our everyday life, be it at home, in the tram, at work; to look at the human being next to us, see their beauty and offer them friendship, peace and love….should we commit to do that, how different our world would be…
The Ambassador of Indonesia, Mr. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, next took the floor, sharing how he still held true in his heart the words of his Mother about respecting all beings and as he said: “Where there is love, there is life, I feel peace surrounding us here today.”
His Excellency also touched on the powerful way Mahatma Gandhi continues to inspire us today through his words, thoughts and deeds and reminded us indeed of the importance, as stressed by Gandhi, to educate our children in the spirit of nonviolence.
H.E. Dr. Mohammad Homayoon Azizi, Ambassador of Afghanistan in his speech commented first hand, as a nation most affected by violence, that we are sadly as yet, not living in the world of nonviolence Gandhi dreamt of.
He reminded us of the special friendship between India and Afghanistan, also symbolised by the friendship between Mahatma Gandhi and Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun Independence activist who popularised Gandhi’s teachings among Muslims.
His Excellency expressed the hope that:” one day the whole world becomes the Peace Palace, in which Human Rights are not restricted to a few cities and every single human has the right to live in a nonviolent environment”.
These deep, powerful messages were delivered alongside cultural performances from the region, often embodied by children full of pride and determination, bringing hope for the living legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.
The march was sponsored by City of The Hague Municipality, Tata Steel, Zeelandia, HCL, POSC and Gravin van Bylandt Stichting.
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