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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Officials+from+Fresno+State+and+the+city+of+Fresno+celebrate+Gandhi%E2%80%99s+153rd%0Abirthday.+%28Diego+Vargas%2FThe+Collegian%29
Officials from Fresno State and the city of Fresno celebrate Gandhi’s 153rd birthday. (Diego Vargas/The Collegian)

Community commemorates Sudarshan Kapoor during 33rd annual Gandhi celebration

Fresno State hosted the annual celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 153rd birthday while also honoring the work of Sudarshan Kapoor on Oct. 4 at the Fresno State Peace Garden.

The celebration, which served to spread the message of “Stop the Hate, Stop the Gun Violence, Build a Culture of Peace,” commemorated Kapoor’s efforts in spreading peace and anti-violence rhetoric. He was the founder and first director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and also served on Fresno’s Human Relations Commission for 12 years. 

Kapoor is currently a philosophy professor at Fresno State and founded the Peace Gardens project to fund the Peace Garden where the event was held.

The event featured speeches from guests such as Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, who emphasized the importance of building a culture and community of peace in Fresno.

“Our students and faculty come from all backgrounds and corners of the world, and it’s especially important that we promote Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of social concern and care for human dignity are more relevant today than ever.”

Dyer reiterated the necessity of a united community. 

“We have a vision today of being an inclusive, prosperous, beautiful city where people take pride in their neighborhood and their community,” Dyer said. “[We need] the message of nonviolence, peace, oneness and unity.”
Dyer announced that Oct. 4 would be recognized as Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Day in Fresno, presenting Kapoor with a plaque of the city’s proclamation to recognize the professor’s service to the community.

Kapoor was also awarded the Community Service Excellence Award by the Central California Society of India (CCSI).

Deepika Shiroy, the current president of the CCSI, presented Kapoor with the award and commending his devoted work in Fresno. 

“Community work sometimes can be [a] disheartening, back-breaking affair,” Shiroy said. “Every community needs a pioneer that inspires us to continue the good work day in and day out.”

During the event, Kapoor spoke about the hardships he experienced in his life. Having moved from India across the continent and then across the world to the U.S., he came to the San Joaquin Valley in 1967. 

“[My family and I] love Fresno. We have raised our children here,” Kapoor said. “ I belong to Fresno State, and Fresno State belongs to me. That’s the kind of relationship I have with this university.”

Songs and dances were performed during the celebration, including a performance by Fresno Unified School District students of “Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram,” a prayer song popularized by Ghandi. The event also featured a performance by the Raging Grannies, an activist group composed of older women who sing songs promoting social justice and peace.

The celebration was part of a larger event known as “The Highway to Healing: Understanding the Ocean of Oneness.” The two-day program featured talks about Gandhian principles and Jain/Hindu Dharma traditions, discussing how they can help people find peace during times of disorder.

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