A March for Peace

A March for Peace

"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth," said Albert Einstein about one of the most inspiring and influential men of the twentieth century. Yes, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly known as the father of our nation, was loved and respected by the world’s most respected individuals. And yet today, amidst attacks on the Mahatma’s personal life and his relationship with his children, many among us are forgetting his contribution to India’s freedom struggle in specific and to humankind in general. Therefore it was heartening to see students, parents and teachers along with peace loving residents, participating in such large numbers to remember and honour Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of peace, truth, love, non-violence and justice.

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti last week, almost 550 people counting 450 children from seven different schools in the city (including a tribal school in Yeoor) walked on the streets of Thane to remember the values that Mahatma Gandhi stood for. This was the fifth consecutive year of Shanti Yatra (or peace march). What started as a celebration of the apostle of peace by Garden School of Thane four years ago has now become an important event with several city-based NGOs actively participating to remind us the powerful ideas of Mahatma Gandhi.

The peach march began from St John the Baptist High School at Jambli Naka and terminated at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi on Shivaji Path covering prominent city roads like Ghantali and Gokhale Road. True to its name, the peace march was peaceful and no one was shouting slogans. Instead, the marchers were carrying placards with Gandhi’s core ideas and messages written on them.

The shanti yatra began as an inter-religious effort but the focus has now shifted to children. The idea behind the event is to familiarise children of today with the values that the Mahatma stood for. Bernadette Pimenta, Garden School’s founder-principal says, "The children of today are so lost that they need a role model like Mahatma Gandhi. This peace march is an effort to instil in our children the love and respect for the father of the nation."

Last year, Tushar Gandhi and Medha Patkar had participated in the Shanti Yatra. This year, the chief guest was Dr Dalvi, former principal of Dnyansadhana College, who spoke about Mahatma’s life and his contribution to India. A little boy from Majiwada School gave a speech on the father of the nation and later bhajans of Gandhi were sung.

Bapu, as children affectionately call him, once said, "Every murder or other injury, no matter for what cause, committed or inflicted on another is a crime against humanity." With widespread violence, terrorism and wars threatening to consume our planet, it is perhaps now more than ever before, that we need to remember the values of the Mahatma.

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