A crowd of nearly 50 gathered in downtown San Francisco to celebrate
the 137th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and his legacy on Oct. 1.
The event was held in front of Gandhi’s statue, which is located at
the south end of the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. It kicked off
the first annual Gandhi Birthday Poems
Poetry and Performance for Peace, which will take place annually in
San Francisco, according to event coordinator Arnie Passman.
The crowd consisted of a combination of spectators, poets, musicians,
authors and peace activists, all present to commemorate the famed
Peace Activist and would fluctuate to as low as 30 peace-loving poets
and performers at times.
“To not believe in the possibility of permanent peace…” were the types
of Gandhi quotes read at the event. Further peace themes, thoughts,
songs, and sentiments were shared amongst many of the poets and
performers. Other styles consisted of songs of peace, and anti-war
poetry read by both peace enthusiasts and activists on the overclouded
Opal Palmer Adisa, a Ph.D., teacher, published writer, and mother of
two teenage children, read passages from her own works, Eros Muse _”
poems and essays. This Jamaican-born writer and accomplished
storyteller’s presence personified warmth and welcome, as she graced
the crowd with her words of peace.
“I am practicing living what I believe,” Adisa said, “We are all
torchbearers of tranquility.”
Each poet or performer was given five minutes to recite, incite and inspire.
Passman was motivated to commemorate Gandhi’s legacy in front of the
statute after getting off the ferry one day and seeing the statue for
the first time. Passman decided that it should become an annual
“There are six other statues of Gandhi around the country. I like to
think of them as the seven pillars of wisdom,” he said.
Another inspiration for Passman was that this Sept. 11 was the 100th
anniversary of Gandhi’s creation of the famed Peace movement, which
began in Johannesburg as an effort to mobilize the community to oppose
the racially degrading legislation of South Africa towards Indians.
There was a ceremony honoring the event in Washington D.C., held by
Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi.
Passman said, “No major news agency reported it.”