MADURAI: Gandhi Museum, Madurai, which inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to launch a series of peaceful agitations against racial discrimination, renewed its ties with the United States of America at a simple ceremony on Friday. Soil from around the memorial, where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi are interred, was collected in an urn to be taken to Cleveland.
What is significant about the event is that the soil will be kept in a crypt at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens (CCG) where soil from 49 other nations is preserved. The CCG, popularly known as Peace Gardens, is a bunch of uniquely landscaped gardens, representing 23 ethnic cultural groups, including Greek, Chinese, Hungarian, Slovenian, German and Hebrew. It is located on a land donated by John D. Rockefeller. The latest addition to the CCG is the Indian Cultural Garden. The maintenance of this garden, designed as a replica of Sanchi Stupa, is entrusted with the Federation of India Community Associations (FICA).
Along with Madurai soil entering the CCG crypt, another important event will take place on October 1. A 10-foot-high statue of the Mahatma, sculpted by Gautam Pal, is to be unveiled at the garden on that day, which is celebrated as `One-World Day.' Venki Venkatesh, the current Editor of `Lotus,' an Indian community newspaper published by FICA, is carrying the urn containing Madurai soil to Cleveland. Dr. Venkatesh said, "It is a significant event to the people of Indian origin not only in Cleveland, Ohio, but also in the entire US."