Posted by: thebluemusicblog | March 18, 2014

INDIA 1 – AHMEDABAD – M.K. GANDHI’S CITY OF BIRTH

We arrived early morning at the airport in Ahmedabad and discovered very early that this would become a very special visit. Already at the foot of the plane stood the manager of the Airline and welcomed us officially to Ahmedabad, and we were shuttled through the airport to a waiting car. Already outside the airport did we see the first posters along the highway wishing the Secretary General of the World Alliance welcome to the city of Ahmedabad. “Keep City Clean. Keep City Green.” These were the words I was promoting on the posters.

IMG_2851It was surprising to see big posters welcoming us to Ahmedabad!

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Gandhi’s spinning wheel

We were taken to the Museum of M.K. Gandhi. This was a real highlight and a very spiritual experience. I was given a guide from a local NGO, not working at the museum at all, but very knowledgable about Gandhi’s life and history. A number of elderly freedom leaders from the old days welcomed us and felicitated us with newly spun cotton threads around our necks. This spinning of cotton threads was significant, and I was given a crash course to operate Gandhi’s spinning wheel. Gandhi at this point of his life, around 1910, lived in a kind of collective here in Ahmedabad, and he owned only one set of clothes. The production of cotton clothes in those days did not allow more than one set of clothes per man, if all Indians were to wear only Indian produced clothes.
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Old freedom leaders welcoming us to the Ghandi Museum in Ahmedabad.

The old people told us about the famous Salt March when Gandhi led a march to protest against the tax on salt, a tax which made life very difficult for common Indians.

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Beautiful people, these freedom leaders from the past!IMG_2847My perfect guide to the Ghandi museum

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John Gevarghese, the self made business man and leader of the Ahmedabad YMCA.

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Press conference in Ahmedabad YMCA.

The YMCA in Ahmedabad is situated in the middle of the city, and has become quite a landmark in the city. A good number of media people turned up a Sunday morning to hear about the YMCA developments in the world, and they were eagerly asking questions about the involvement of India in Youth Empowerment programmes and Change Agent programmes, and the World  Challenge from 2012 was well known locally. It was a special place to meet media, and talking about the job description of the Change Agents: Be the Change, Share the vision, Inspire action. It is very inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his famous words: You have to become the Change you want to see!

JJM_5947Keynote speech in Ahmedabad.

In my keynote speech I saluted the many faith leaders being present, Bishops and Church leaders from different denominations as well as a leader of the Hindu society. I talked about the focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ which I could feel in all of the Indian YMCAs, including Ahmedabad. At the same time I could feel a very inspirational inclusivity and openness to people of all backgrounds and of all faiths and different cultures. This is really both being very Christ centered and being very inclusive and open, and for me a fabulous demonstration of the unconditional love of God to all man.

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The local YMCA has supported the financing of the Change Agent programme and it was a pleasure to hand over an award to symbolize the gratitude of the international YMCA.

JJM_6063Four guests of honor deeply engaged in their supper!

And afterwards it was supper outside on the lawn for 1000 people and dancing and cultural programme till late in the evening. A real Indian feast.

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