fbpx
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Talking about the Mahatma

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ela Gandhi, teacher for the day at Ashbury Public School

- Advertisement -

As the primary school students sang the number Hum honge kamyab (We shall overcome), an emotional Ela Gandhi related how she sang this very song to herself when she was incarcerated in a South African prison during the days of the anti-Apartheid struggle.

The particular song was a favourite of her illustrious grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, and became an anthem of the movement he led for India’s independence from British occupation.

The students at Sydney’s Ashbury Public School welcomed peace activist Ela Gandhi at a special school assembly, as part of a program on Indian studies. Called ‘India Calling’, this innovative educational program is aimed at developing an understanding of India and its culture among primary school children. With five other schools in the area, 520 students in Years 3 and 4 celebrate India’s festivals and learn the Hindi language, as well as songs and dances from India. The project was launched by the Sydney Region of the NSW Department of Education and Communities in 2008, as part of its ‘Expanding Horizons with Asia’ initiative.

At the assembly, Ms Gandhi interacted with the students, the blue of her sari in sync with the blue of their uniforms. She spoke to them about her grandfather, describing in particular his iconic Dandi Salt March. (The students learned that with this 24-day walk on which thousands of people joined him, Gandhi triggered off the peaceful Civil Disobedience Movement that ultimately ended the British colonization of India). The other participating schools joined in via video-conferencing.

Ms Gandhi also watched a special presentation in which a young student read out a peace poem. This was highlighted by a Powerpoint presentation made up of illustrations created by the students. And of course, this was a perfect opportunity to present that Jai Ho dance number yet again!

As well, Ms Gandhi planted a tree in the school’s Peace Garden.

Earlier on, she was welcomed in true Indian tradition by Ashbury kids, who marked her forehead with a tikka.

Relieving Principal Mrs Sally D’Arrigo said later, “It was a beautiful day. The students got to see Ela Gandhi’s peaceful nature first hand and learned of the value of non-violence”.

Mala Mehta, founder of the IABBV Hindi School in Thornleigh who helped devise the India Calling program, also attended the event and was thrilled with how well it went. “I was quite overwhelmed, not only with the fact that the kids responded so well, but also to note that the program has come so far as to be able to host a personality of the stature of Ela Gandhi,” she said.

Ela Gandhi was in Sydney speaking as a guest of the University of New South Wales.  Details of the article here.


- Advertisement -

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

0
  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh’s rivalry with her overachieving ‘cousin’, Kamala Harris

0
  "Growing up I always got compared to my Indian cousins," shares Lilly Singh, reminding us of those unforgettable sibling rivalries we've all experiences at...
Udaya wentworthville

Reopening after being a COVID exposure site

0
  "We did not have a clue, because the customer was asymtopmatic." Since the news of popular spots Saravanaa Bhavan and Udaya supermarket being COVID exposure...
meeting op nayyar (1)

Why OP Nayyar continues to be this fan’s favourite musician

0
  I am an ardent admirer of O P Nayyar’s music. Anyone who knows me well, knows of my love for Indian film music from...

5 powerful poems by the brilliant Javed Akhtar

0
  A celebrated lyricist and the recipient of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his poetry, Javed Akhtar's name is synonymous with soul-wrenching, evocative writing.  His...
dog swami video

WATCH: Dog ‘blesses’ devotees outside temple in India

0
  In a now viral video, a dog stationed outside the Siddhivinayak Temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra was spotted shaking hands and 'blessing' devotees as they...