Gift to Manchester outside Manchester Cathedral
A gift to Manchester of a bronze statue of the iconic spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled outside Manchester Cathedral today (November 25th) in the 150th anniversary year of his birth.
VIPs included Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council, the Right Reverend Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester and Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai, Founder, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (SRMD). The statue is an initiative of SRMD, a worldwide spiritual movement. Shrimad Rajchandraji was Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual mentor.
Gandhi's memorable accounts on Shrimadji testify the profound influence that Shrimadji's personality exerted on the Mahatma's life. Shrimadji's emphasis on truth, compassion and non-violence in every walk of life, later crystallised as the fundamental tenets of Gandhism, which played a significant role in the Indian struggle for independence. In the history of India, the success of Gandhi's non-violent struggle as a means of achieving freedom will be engraved in golden letters. Even in the history of the world his unique contributions will be immortalised.
Gandhi, who has been praised by the whole world as a messenger of non-violence, will ever remain indebted to the teachings of Shrimadji. Thus, this initiative was undertaken by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur during Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary Year.
The costs to install the 9ft high, 800kg statue, by renowned Indian artist Ram V. Sutar, in the city’s Medieval Quarter were sponsored by the Kamani Family in memory of their grandfather Bhanji Khanji Kamani (1888-1979). Ram V. Sutar is the man who has designed Statue of Unity, world’s tallest sculpture. The project is supported by Manchester Cathedral, Manchester City Council, the Manchester India Partnership and the High Commission of India. This will be one of world’s tallest statue outside of India.
The statue of Gandhi, the global ambassador of non-violence and peace, was carefully planned, considering the location, scale in the context of the space and ensuring there will be necessary pedestrian and disabled access.
Invited guests include senior figures from the Indian government and representatives of High Commission of India, UK to join the head of SRMD UK, Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai. Representatives from both religious and non-religious organisations across Manchester and beyond attended the event.
Spokesperson from SRMD UK said: “The statue of Gandhi will celebrate the universal power of his message. A statue in Manchester will ensure that the heart of our politics and democracy can all be inspired with his ethos. Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings remain as potent today as when he first said, ‘be the change that you want to see in the world’, Following the 2017 Arena attack, Manchester’s unique civic pride displayed the values of non-violence and compassion. We are inspired by the people of Manchester for their strength, decency and community in the face of this unparalleled tragedy”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a leader who tirelessly championed the power of peaceful protest, will find a welcome home in Manchester. In the turbulent times we live in, his legacy of peace is one we can all appreciate and reflect on.”
Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport and chair of the Manchester India Partnership, said: “The unveiling of this statue is the latest example of the ‘living bridge’ that exists between Greater Manchester and India. A huge amount of work has gone into forging closer ties between the two since the formation of the Manchester India Partnership 18 months ago. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the Mahatma Gandhi Statue project, it is a welcome addition to our city and is sure to prove popular with everyone who visits the city centre in the years ahead.”
Rob Hannay, business development manager of construction firm BAM, said: “The client chose their spot outside the Cathedral, looked across, and saw our team building 100 Embankment opposite. It is fantastic to be able to assist with the siting of Gandhi’s statue. Coincidentally, BAM is 150 years old this year, and the opportunity to do something positive to enhance the city in our anniversary year was too good to miss. Our team combined with Adana Construction in Stockport, and structural engineers, Ramboll. Between us we have housed the statue, conducted exploratory digs, liaised with the council to get it through a raft of permissions, created foundations, a plaque and conducted the installation as it’s a 150th birthday gift to our city!”
National planning and development consultancy Turley provided expert planning, design and heritage services for the Mahatma Gandhi statue.
During a 1931 visit to the UK, Gandhi visited the textile mills in Lancashire, travelling from London to Blackburn via Manchester, to meet with mill workers and explain the Indian perspective on the boycott of British goods that was damaging their Cottage industry. During this visit, Gandhi attracted large crowds of admirers and received a warm welcome.
Mahatma Gandhi taught us to tread the path of peaceful, love and truth and this statue will be a fitting tribute to his contribution towards Global peace.
This statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a leader who tirelessly championed the power of peaceful protest, will find a welcome home in Manchester. In the turbulent times we live in, his legacy of peace is one we can all appreciate and reflect on.” Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council