Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Gandhiji in Sydney: A photo exhibition in Sydney

An exhibition of rare photographs kickstarts the Mahatma’s sesquicentennial in Sydney

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It was a wonderful occasion to take some pictures with the birthday boy, Gandhiji. Although there was no cake – it would have been hard to get one to fit 150 candles – the life-size cut-out of Gandhiji proved mightily popular with the selfie seekers. Gandhijis sesquicentennial was marked with a number of events in Sydney, one of the more popular ones being an exhibition of some rare photographs at Western Sydney University.

A still from the exhibition

The world’s most famous Indian was portrayed here in some 100 original images, captured in the backdrop of the historic Dandi Yatra, the non-cooperation movement, Bardoli Peasants Satyagraha, and other pivotal moments from the freedom struggle.

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Also on display was a young Gandhiji, as a law student in 1890. Gandhiji attending to sanitary work, Gandhiji walking with his grandson Kanu Gandhi on Juhu beach in 1937, Gandhiji with Charlie Chaplin and Gandhi with Subhash Chandra Bose among others.

Young Mohandas as a law student in London

Each and every picture came with its own detailed caption, making it all an immersive and informative experience. Gandhiji’s world was well and truly brought back to us.

Gandhi’s picture at Marseilles

The exhibition was installed by the Gandhi Peace Centre Australia. Ronnie D’Souza, Honorary Director, told Indian Link, “We have been conducting this photo exhibition during Gandhi Jayanti for almost 18 years. Gandhiji’s life and works can be told in countless ways. This photo exhibition is one way of narrating his life story to the masses.”

He revealed that the photos were collected from the archives of the National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi. The photo descriptions were curated by the volunteers of Gandhiji Peace Centre Australia with the support from Mala Mehta, Dhaval Gelani and Consulate General of India, Sydney, Manish Gupta.

The Gandhi Peace Centre Australia was founded by Ronnie D’Souza in 2002. Ever since its inception, the volunteers of this organisation have been addressing community issues like domestic violence and unemployment via seminars and counselling sessions. (Check out their activities on their Facebook page.)

Organised by an eclectic group from the community led by dynamic Parramatta Councillor Sameer Pandey, the exhibition was part of a series of events held for the first time in Western Sydney.

“It’s been a wonderfully collaborative initiative, with Council efforts backed by government, private enterprise, community stakeholders and interested members of the public,” Councillor Pandey told Indian Link. “I think Gandhiji deserves such a multi-thronged effort, don’t you?”

The vintage photographs had the attendees quite engrossed. Peter Mushenko, who attended the exhibition, told Indian Link, “I work for the Salvation Army and have a quote of Gandhiji at the bottom of my email: ‘The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing, would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.’ I’ve always wanted to know more about Gandhi as a person. It’s been great in this exhibition to read about his life and the historic facts, which I didn’t know. All the photographs are very inspiring.” His favourite, he revealed, was one which showed the Mahatma campaigning against untouchability.

Gandhiji with Charlie Chaplin

“It’s thought-provoking. No one is above or below anyone else; everyone deserves respect and has to be treated with the same human dignity.”

Reena, a Gandhi Centre volunteer, said, “I have followed Gandhian principles in my own life. This exhibition has insightful information on many of his principles. The photographs are truly amazing.”

A great way to kickstart the Mahatma’s sesquicentennial – a refresher into his remarkable life and work.

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