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Mahatma Gandhi statue unveiled in Manchester commemorating 150th year of his birth

Categories: India

Andy Burnham at the Gandhi statue unveiling

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Manchester India Partnership

A gift to Manchester of a bronze statue of the iconic spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled outside Manchester Cathedral today in the 150th year of his birth. 

VIPs included Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council, the Right Reverend Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester and Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai, Founder, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (SRMD).
Gandhi, who has been praised by the whole world as a messenger of non-violence, will ever remain indebted to the teachings of Shrimadji. Thus, this initiative was undertaken by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur during Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary Year.

The statue was designed by Ram V. Sutar – who also designed Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest sculpture – and is one of the world’s tallest statues outside of India. The costs to install the 9ft high, 800kg statue in the city’s Medieval Quarter were sponsored by the Kamani Family in memory of their grandfather Bhanji Khanji Kamani (1888-1979).

The project is supported by Manchester Cathedral, Manchester City Council, the Manchester India Partnership and the High Commission of India. Invited guests included senior figures from the Indian government and High Commission of India representatives, the head of SRMD UK, Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai. Representatives from both religious and non-religious organisations across Manchester and beyond also attended the event.

A spokesperson from SRMD UK said:

“The statue of Gandhi will celebrate the universal power of his message. A statue in Manchester will ensure that the heart of our politics and democracy can all be inspired with his ethos. Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings remain as potent today as when he first said, ‘be the change that you want to see in the world’. Following the 2017 Arena attack, Manchester’s unique civic pride displayed the values of non-violence and compassion. We are inspired by the people of Manchester for their strength, decency and community in the face of this unparalleled tragedy.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said:

“This statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a leader who tirelessly championed the power of peaceful protest, will find a welcome home in Manchester. In the turbulent times we live in, his legacy of peace is one we can all appreciate and reflect on.”

Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport and chair of the Manchester India Partnership, said:

“The unveiling of this statue is the latest example of the ‘living bridge’ that exists between Greater Manchester and India. A huge amount of work has gone into forging closer ties between the two since the formation of the Manchester India Partnership 18 months ago. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the Mahatma Gandhi Statue project, it is a welcome addition to our city and is sure to prove popular with everyone who visits the city centre in the years ahead.”

The statue is an initiative of SRMD, a worldwide spiritual movement. Shrimad Rajchandraji was Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual mentor. Gandhi's memorable accounts on Shrimadji testify the profound influence that Shrimadji's personality exerted on the Mahatma's life. Shrimadji's emphasis on truth, compassion and non-violence in every walk of life, later crystallised as the fundamental tenets of Gandhism, which played a significant role in the Indian struggle for independence. In the history of India, the success of Gandhi's non-violent struggle as a means of achieving freedom will be engraved in golden letters. Even in the history of the world his unique contributions will be immortalised.

During a 1931 visit to the UK, Gandhi visited the textile mills in Lancashire, travelling from London to Blackburn via Manchester, to meet with mill workers and explain the Indian perspective on the boycott of British goods that was damaging their Cottage industry. During this visit, Gandhi attracted large crowds of admirers and received a warm welcome.

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