WSU celebrates Gandhi's birthday

In honor of the 143rd anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, the Weber State University Student Association’s Diversity Board held a celebration for the civil rights leader and father of the Indian independence

(Photo by Tyler Brown) Prasanna Reddy, director of academic support services and programs, gave a presentation on Gandhi to commemorate his 143rd birthday. A birthday cake was served to attendees.

movement. The event was held in the Center for Diversity and Unity in the Shepherd Union Building, and lasted from 12-1 p.m. on Tuesday. Cake was served to attendants, and the cake read “Happy Birthday Gandhi!”

“I saw Gandhi’s birthday on the calendar and it just jumped out at me,” said Ryan Smith, celebrations and traditions chair for the Center for Diversity and Unity, who coordinated the event. “It was perfect for an event to start off October. We wanted to educate people on his beliefs and his effect. I really look up to peaceful protesting.”

For the event, Prasanna Reddy, director of academic support services and programs, gave a presentation on Gandhi. She presented a PowerPoint showing pictures and detailing his life and significance not only to India and Indian people, but also people throughout the rest of the world. A brief Q-and-A session followed the presentation, and then the cake was served.

Jonathan Taylor, a WSU student majoring in psychology, said he enjoyed attending the celebration and called Gandhi “amongst the most impressive protesters I’ve ever heard of,” citing how widespread Gandhi’s influence has been on civil rights movements around the globe.

“They did a nice job,” Taylor said. “I thought it was very well put together.”

Gandhi was born in India in 1869 and was educated in London, where he studied law. He began fighting for civil liberties and freedom in South Africa for Hindu and Muslim Indians living there. Gandhi advocated nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to achieve social change, and was instrumental in India gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1947. Because of this, in India he is often referred to as “the Father of the Nation.” Gandhi, a Hindu, was assassinated in 1948 by another Hindu man, who thought Gandhi was too accommodating to Muslims in India.

Gandhi’s peaceful philosophies of nonviolence and cooperation have influenced many other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

Because of his significance and accomplishments, Gandhi’s birthday, Oct. 2, is a national holiday in India. Throughout the rest of the world, Oct. 2 is celebrated as the International Day of Nonviolence.

“He has taught me the value of sacrifice and nonviolence as a means to achieving my goals,” Reddy said. “Violence is not a way of reacting to any situation. Even if the other person is being aggressive, we can always tone down and respond in a more reasonable manner.”

Reddy is originally from India, though she has lived in the United States and worked at WSU for 35 years. She said she was glad to give the presentation and help bring about awareness for Gandhi’s birthday.

“You could easily say that, because of Gandhi, I was born in a free country,” Reddy said. “That, to me, is everything.”