22nd Annual Mahatma Gandhi Peace March
QUEENS, NY — Last Sunday, October 1, 2017, the Federation of Hindu Mandirs Inc., in collaboration with the USA Pandits’ Parishad sponsored the 22nd Annual Mahatma Gandhi Peace March along Liberty Avenue Richmond Hill. Participants assembled at Liberty Avenue & 121st Street around 1:00 pm and then marched to the Tulsie Mandir on 111th Street, led by Gandhi Ji (Pt. Bhaya) and the Reckless Riddimz Tassa drummers.
The march this year attracted participation from the smartly uniformed Brahma Kumaris, members of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), the Queens Chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON), The NYPD Desi Society, and members of the sponsoring organizations.
Several marchers carried quotations from the Mahatma’s speeches and writings calling for non-violence and peace in the world. Before the day ended, however, the shocking events in Las Vegas reminded us that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime, if not more so. Gandhi Ji would have been 148 years old on Monday when we woke up to news of the horror in Las Vegas.
The march ended at the Tulsie Mandir where a short cultural program took place. This year the organizers appointed young Pandit Ganeshwar Ramsahai to present the Gandhi Lecture in which he discussed the Mahatma’s philosophy of non-violence and respect for each other.
The high point of the program was the announcement and presentation of the Gandhi Peace Prize. The peace award is made in the name of Gandhi Ji to an outstanding community activist who has a record of service, and contributes to peaceful coexistence among all groups, as inspired by the Mahatma.
The announcement of Surindra Navin Phagu as the person selected for the 2017 Peace Award was met with loud cheers of approval. Dharmacharya Misir presented a marble bust of Gandhi Ji to a humble Bhai Phagu as his Mom, Sanwattie, wife Babita, children, grandchildren and daughter-in-law, and close friends looked on proudly.
Navin Ji comes from a family of 6 sons, and has made a name for himself in the Queens community as a hard working businessman who still found time to work with service organizations to make a contribution to the community. Kind, generous and always ready to share his personal resources, he has won the respect of his peers. He has been involved with the much loved Phagwah Parade for more than 20 years, and served the Shri Trimurti Mandir as Organizing Secretary for 15 years. The Shri Trimurti is the Mandir where he met his Guru, the much revered Pandit Chunelall Narine, who Navin credits for his personal spiritual development from where sprang his strong desire to selflessly serve his community.
He is currently the Organizing Secretary of the Federation of Hindu Mandirs, Inc. and has been very much involved in the planning and implementation of the Ramayana in the Park Yagnas, New York’s classy open air religious event.
Navin got married to his High School sweetheart, Babita, some 31 years ago and the marriage has produced one son, two daughters and three wonderful grandchildren.
The NYC community congratulates Bhai Surindra Navin Phagu on the award of the Gandhi Peace Prize and thanks him for his service!
(Naidoo Radhakrishnan Veerapen, General Secretary, The Federation of Hindu Mandirs, Inc.)