(Image source from: Cultural India)
Ahead of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the United States, a country he never visited, found to have the largest memorials, statues, and sculptures of Father of the Nation.
According to the list compiled by PTI, there are more than two dozen statues of the Mahatma in the U.S. and there are over a dozen major groups and associations related to him in the country.
Subash Razdan, Chairman of The Gandhi Foundation of USA, told PTI in an interview that outside India, the United States has the largest number of Gandhi memorials, statue, and busts of Mahatma Gandhi. In 2013, he was felicitated with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award.
Founded in 1959, Gandhi Memorial Center in Bethesda, a Maryland-suburb of Washington DC, was the first memorial foundation in the name of Mahatma in the United States, which is still active and is engaged in passing on the values and teachings of Gandhi.
The first major statue of Gandhi was installed on October 2, 1986, at the popular Union Square Park in the New York City sculptured by Kantilal B. Patel. The bronze sculpture joined monuments to Washington, Lafayette, and Lincoln in Union Square Park as a quartet of works devoted to defenders of independence.
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Razdan said Gandhi has a huge following in the United States partly because civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr was inspired by the teachings and philosophy of the Mahatma.
Former United States President Barack Obama and several influential leaders of the U.S. including Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi are self-proclaimed followers of Mahatma Gandhi. And this is also the reasons why the U.S. today has the sizeable number of statues and busts outside India. “That is undoubtedly the case,” Razdan said in response to a question.
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As yet, the statues of Mahatma Gandhi are almost in all major cities and places of the United States, including Washington, D.C., a federal land, in front of the Indian Embassy. It was formally made public on September 16, 2000, by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then US president Bill Clinton.
Other places that have Gandhi statues in the U.S. are at the Flint Peace Park, Flint Michigan; Milwaukee County Courthouse, Milwaukee Wisconsin; at the Pacifist Memorial in Sherborn, Massachusetts; Millsaps College, Jackson Mississippi; Mission Inn Plaza, Riverside California; Embarcadero Centre, San Francisco California and Shanti Fund, Hauppauge, Long Island, New York.