President of India Sh. Ramnath Kovind said ‘Para-Mata’ reminds him of ‘Bharat Mata’ at the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi statue

By Aradhana Bhatt

Hundreds gathered to be part of the memorable unveiling ceremony of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Parramatta’s Jubilee Park on a warm and windy weekday afternoon. India’s Hon. President Ram Nath Kovind and   Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison payed tributes to the Mahatma, the visionary who not only shaped India’s future but showed the world the path of non-violence and truth.

Lord Mayor of Parramatta Andrew Wilson hosted the crisp and gracious ceremony. Among those dignitaries present were Indian High Commissioner to Australia, DR A.M Gondane, local MP’s Julie Owens, Dr Geoff Lee.

PM Morrison, in his brief yet touching address likened Australia’s multicultural society to Indian ”˜garam masala’. ”˜Just like the garam masala consists of many spices like cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, etc Australia’s society is made of many nationalities. The spices of garam masala may not taste so great by themselves, yet when they are combined and ground together they have an amazing aroma. The multicultural society of Australia is the same’. To this the crowd broke out in applause and cheer. He remembered the day Mahatma Gandhi was shot and he read out details of how Australia mourned and paid tribute to the great soul in 1948.

He said that at the time, St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, the Anglican congregation offered on Mahatma’s passing away with the prayer,” ‘Hear the cry of India, bereft of that leader whose frail person so often stood in the gap, whose life was devoted, even unto death, to his country’s cause’. The MCG, India’s Test cricket team observed a minute’s silence before play began, along with the Australian team led by Donald Bradman. And in our nation’s capital, flags were flown at half-mast.”

He went on to add, “Australian Prime Ministers from Menzies to Turnbull have laid wreaths at Gandhi’s memorial in Rajghat and paid their respects. But we can honour him right here now in Parramatta too, when we stop to reflect at this beautiful statue.”

“As the world marks the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, he truly lives on. For his message is not a whisper from the past, but a teaching embedded in the hearts of millions around the world.”

Hon. President Ram Nath Kovind, who was accompanied by the first lady Mrs. Kovind, congratulated the Indian diaspora for their hard work and dedication to their adopted homeland and said that the Indian diaspora truly represent the country of their ancestors. He talked about Gandhi as the first ”˜Pravasi’ and how his stay in South Africa became the starting point of India’s struggle for freedom.

The crowd greeted the President with emotionally charged chanting of ”˜Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ”˜Vande Mataram’. The President was quick to point out that ”˜Para-mata’ and ”˜Bharat Mata’ are rhyming words. Traditional Indian dances and an Aboriginal welcome added colour and flavour to the ceremony. The beautiful statue of the Mahatma now adorns the park as a gentle reminder of his unmatched vision and his sacrifices. We hope that his spirit will continue to guide many who seek inspiration from his deeds.

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