This year marks the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, and Kern County is celebrating all year.
The Rabi and Naina Patel Foundation, in partnership with the local Gandhi Committee for Truth and Non-Violence, is putting on a series of events honoring Gandhi’s philosophy and values. The events are part of an international celebration.
The first event takes place Sunday. The”Gandhi” movie is showing for free at 2 p.m. at the Fox Theater, 2001 H St. The “Gandhi” movie provides the early history of civil rights, peaceful political activism and providing a voice for the under represented. You can reserve your free seat by going to thebakersfieldfox.com or at the box office.
Naina Patel hopes the community will learn from how Ghandi lived his life and from his teachings.
“He taught by example,” she said. “He taught how to deal with injustices in a non-violent way.”
“And not just that, but also you love your enemy,” Naina continued. “There should be no hatred toward that enemy. We change their hearts. In this day in age and the political environment, people aren’t listening to each other. This message from the movie is very relevant.”
The community is also invited to participate in the Festival for Peace and Non-Violence March beginning at 9:30 p.m. on March 30 on the Don hart East Lawn at Cal State Bakersfield, 9001 Stockdale Highway. The festival is designed to celebrate Gandhi’s philosophy of peace and non-violence. There will be a peace march, live entertainment and food. Eisha Mason, the founding executive director of The Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence, will also speak at the event on her book, “Gandhi: Revolutionary, Evolutionary Love.”
The foundation is also holding a $1,000 Essay Contest. All Kern County high school seniors and all Kern County college students can submit an essay providing their personal interpretation of Gandhi’s “truth is the goal, non-violence is the way” philosophy. The deadline to turn in the essay for seniors is March 31 and for college students is May 30. High school seniors can submit essays to firstname.lastname@example.org, and college students can submit their essays to email@example.com.
The series of events will end with a conference in September, featuring Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi Nipun Mehta, the founder of ServiceSpace. The event takes place on Sept. 28 at CSUB.
When asked what she hopes the community takes away from the events, Naina said, “My biggest hope is they will learn to do things in a civilized way and a non violent way, without hatred.”