The MAHATMA Peace Symposium 2023, “My Land, My Story – Meri Kahaani, Meri Zabaani”, an Australia-India Cultural Synergies initiative of Saroni Roy Foundation (SRf), brought together luminaries, government leaders, multicultural community leaders and peace builders, to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti in Sydney. The third edition of the MAHATMA Peace Symposium to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 154th birth anniversary, which is celebrated every year on 2nd October, and perpetuate Gandhian principles and values was hosted at UTS Sydney last week.
A tribute to the global peace hero Mahatma Gandhi, the MAHATMA Peace Symposium is a global community forum to discuss Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of sustainability, real development and focusing on the Gandhian philosophy and concept of Satyagraha, Sarvodaya, Swaraj, the “Constructive Program”, and its articulation in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“We at SRf believe that inclusive & peaceful societies lead to prosperous economies, and MPS highlights the ethos that structured peace education is key to creating a paradigm shift in the way world thinks about peace. To achieve this, we implement a 3C’s approach by tapping into cultural economy, creative economy & the circular economy.” said, Saroni Roy, Creator & Producer of MAHATMA Peace Symposium.
Beginning with a Smoking Ceremony performed by First Nations elders Uncle John & Aunty Liz, followed by a Welcome to Country and the unveiling of award-winner First Nations Artist Presten Warren’s unique artwork, the MAHATMA Peace Symposium 2023 was a true celebration of Australia-India Cultural Synergies.
“I wanted the vision & themes of MPS 2023 – “My Land, My Story – Meri Kahaani, Meri Zabaani”, an Australia-India Cultural Synergies initiative, to be articulated through Art.”
Saroni worked remotely with Presten, to curate an authentic and exquisite piece of art, ensconced in the Gandhian values of Ahimsa, Sarvodaya, Swaraj, – peace, love, and reconciliation. The intricate patterns portray the Australian Indigenous peoples’ journeys and camps, which span across the vast expanse of the country, representing the diverse tribes that comprise a unified nation.
Moreover, the artwork incorporates the Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag colours & Indian flag colours, embodying the ancient Australian connection to India – the links between Australian Aboriginal and Indian tribes, aligning with the theme of India’s G20 Presidency – “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth ·One Family · One Future” – drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the ‘Maha Upanishad’, celebrating and strengthening Australia-India bi-lateral relations. The artwork was also rendered on a Gajji silk saree handcrafted by the artisans of India, an Australia-India cultural synergies heritage piece, draped by Saroni.
These ethos were also articulated by parliamentarians and dignitaries including NSW MPs Warren Kirby, Chair, State Parliamentary Friends of India and Jacqui Munro, Acting Consul General of India, Sydney, Sanjay Muluka and Patricia Garcia AO, through their keynote addresses.
The event featured la ive concert by actor & artist Saroni Roy and the world-acclaimed violinist Sagar Nagaraj, powered by SRf Creatists & Australian Indian Orchestra (AIO). The performance included a medley of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite songs in three languages, namely, ‘Vaishnav Jan To’, ‘Raghupati Raghav’, ‘Ekla Cholo Re’, showcasing CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) artists from India and Australia, as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and to all creatives and artists creating a peaceful, inclusive world through art.
Watch Video: ‘Vaishnav Jan To’ by AIO’s Sagar Nagaraj and Saroni Roy
The Global Peacebuilders Forum 2023 featured social impact leaders like Dr Scott Watkins, Chair, Pollinate Group, Professor Dr Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology Sydney, Cr Barbara Ward, Advisory Board, UNAA NSW & Moderator, Saroni Roy. The panel discussion focussed on “My Land, My Story – Meri Kahaani, Meri Zabaani”, deep-diving into the ancient/historical links between Australian Aboriginal and Indian tribes. And how the Gandhian values of Satyagraha, Sarvodaya & Swaraj, Gandhi’s “Constructive Program”, his ‘Village Economy Model’ was a forerunner to today’s Sustainable Cities.
Underscoring the 5Ps of Peacebuilding: People: “My Land, My Story – Meri Kahaani, Meri Zabaani”. Peace: Satyagraha, non-violent approach. Giving people agency; Planet: Our relationship with the planet; Prosperity: Economy, Sustainable Cities and Communities; Partnership: Significance of collaboration, networked multilateralism. Shared responsibility and global solidarity; it was a call-to-action for responsible global citizens to get involved in finding constructive solutions to problems, rather than just leaving responsibilities to the government.
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