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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Mahatma Gandhi statue to be installed in Abu Dhabi

The gold-hued three-foot, 60kg statue will be unveiled at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in the capital on Thursday

Sculptor Chithran Kunhimangalam works on a 60kg statue of Gandhi that will be installed in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Courtesy Chithran Kunhimangalam
Sculptor Chithran Kunhimangalam works on a 60kg statue of Gandhi that will be installed in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Courtesy Chithran Kunhimangalam

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be installed at an Indian centre in Abu Dhabi to teach young people about his message of peace and nonviolence.

The gold-hued, three-foot, 60-kilogramme statue will be unveiled at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in the capital on Thursday evening to mark the 70th anniversary of Gandhi’s death.

“We wanted this to be a reminder to the new generation that there was a world leader with a message that people still remember. I feel people are forgetting him, so there is a need to take them back to his philosophy,” said VTV Damodaran, president of Gandhi Sahitya Vedi, a group that organises programmes for children in the UAE on Gandhi’s teachings.

He planned the exhibit and commissioned the work to an artist in his hometown in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

“For last five years, I have been dreaming about getting a statue of Gandhi to Abu Dhabi and it has finally materialised. We have a link to this country and it is only appropriate for the Mahatma’s statue to have a home in this country,” said Mr Damodaran.

Mohandas Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi was revered as "Bapu" or Father of the nation for the leading role he played in the Indian freedom struggle from British colonial rule.

He was shot dead on his way to a prayer meeting in New Delhi on January 30, 1948. The day is marked as Martyr’s Day in India.

The statue is moulded in clay and finished with a fibre mixture. The original idea to create a bronze statue was scrapped due to the weight and cost of shipping it from India.

It was the first overseas assignment for sculptor Chithran Kunhimangalam, who has crafted several busts and life-size images of Gandhi that are on display across India.

“I watched many videos and looked at hundreds of photographs. I needed to study him before I began working on this project,” said Kunhimangalam, who teaches drawing to high school children from Payyunur in Kerala.

“It took six months for me to make it but I took more than a year to prepare for it. I have done other characters before but Gandhi is so famous. I had to really study him so it could be as real as possible.”

One of Gandhi’s famous sayings, “My life is my message” will be inscribed at the base of the statue.

For the cultural centre, the statue forms a link between their home and the country Indians have worked in for decades.

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“In the Year of Zayed we thought we could celebrate two leaders and two fathers of our nations. Sheikh Zayed also talked about Gandhi, so this connection came to us when we thought about installing the statue in Abu Dhabi,” said Jayachandran Nair, acting president of the Indian centre.

“Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace and how he handled fighting for freedom without any weapon is known to every human being. As a community in our foster land, we can celebrate the Year of Zayed and with the statue we hope the Mahatma’s spirit and message will influence people always.”

The statue will be unveiled in a ceremony that is open to all the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi at 7.30pm on Thursday.

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