The Gandhi International Institute of Peace, which was founded on Sept. 11, 2001, seeks to raise awareness about nonviolence in Hawaii.

One of its major goals is to promote world peace.

Peace is not an absence of noise, violence and war. It is an internal experience. When human beings cultivate peace within, they become the agents of peace, plant the seeds of nonviolence among children and adults, and spread the message of peace in society to transform the world.

Gandhi practiced and preached nonviolence (Ahimsa) to his followers. He led a nonviolent movement known as Satyagraha (insistence on truth) through vast civil disobedience.

He became one of the most important political and spiritual leaders of his time, and he succeeded in removing the British Empire from India in August 1947 without using armed force of any kind.

The Gandhi statue in Waikiki is near the Honolulu Zoo. Flickr: LOLO FROM TAHITI

Because of his sacrifices for humanity, Mahatma Gandhi is known as the “Father of the Nation” in India.

In 2007, the United Nations designated Oct. 2 — Gandhi’s birthdate — as a Day of Nonviolence. That year, a peace march was organized in Honolulu. It was supported by 23 organizations.

Thousands of people joined the march in solidarity. They walked from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park.

Since then, the Gandhi International Institute of Peace has organized an annual peace conference, building bridges with various organizations and churches to support and encourage nonviolence in Hawaii.

Symbol Of Peace

A bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi is located under a banyan tree near the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki. Gandhi’s statue is a symbol of peace, nonviolence, equality, justice and freedom. It reminds us that peace is possible even in the midst of turmoil.

Gandhi united all religions and said that religious paths are different but “truth is one.” He emphasized that the world is one family, and that love is an invisible thread which binds us together.

Over the years there have been several significant developments regarding Mahatma Gandhi Day in Hawaii.

In 2013, for example, Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, visited Hawaii and shared the teachings of Gandhi with teachers, students, political leaders, social leaders and interfaith leaders.

The following year, a bill was introduced by state Sens. Suzanne Chun-Oakland and Brian Taniguchi in the Hawaii Legislature. Senate Bill 332, which made Hawaii the first state to proclaim Oct. 2 as “Mahatma Gandhi Day,” passed unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. David Ige.

Be a change, if you wish to see a change in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

Two years later, the Gandhi International Institute of Peace published “Gandhi’s Wisdom for You.” The institute plans to publish “Anger and Nonviolence” a year from now and is planning to hold the 1st International Peace Conference in Hawaii at the Hawaii Convention Center in July 2020.

The Gandhi International Institute for Peace will celebrate its 12th annual event to commemorate what will be the 148th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi this Monday, Oct. 2, from 5-6:30 p.m. outside of the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki.

The event will include a Hawaiian blessing, an Indian spiritual invocation and speeches from political leaders, peacemakers and educators, along with dialogue between interfaith leaders about world peace. There will also be multicultural dances and peace music by the Royal Hawaiian Band.

The event is free to the public. Free vegetarian snacks and bottles of water will be served by Down to Earth.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be a change, if you wish to see a change in the world.”

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