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Gandhi statue in the US faces removal

india Updated: Jun 29, 2007 18:12 IST

IANS
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A multi-faith retreat centre near Boston that houses a life-size bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi is facing closure due to lack of state funding.

The Peace Abbey situated in Sherborn, New England, needs $218,000 by the end of June in order to avoid insolvency.

The centre was founded by Lewis Randa, a social activist, after a visit by Mother Teresa in 1988. It is the only place in New England to have a Gandhi statue.

The Peace Abbey is dedicated to creating innovative models for society that empower individuals on the paths of nonviolence, peacemaking and cruelty-free living. It offers a variety of programmes and resources that teach, inspire and encourage one to speak out and act on issues of peace and social justice.

"The diminishing funds may be a result of the centre's ideological leanings, Randa told the India New England magazine.

Ever since the escalation of the war in Iraq, the memorial's anti-war activities and protests have not gone down well with large donors, Randa said.

The Peace Abbey serves as a model for religious organisations, communities and individuals seeking non-violent, pacifist pathways to peace and social justice.

"Large contributions diminish because an organisation that follows the act of teaching non-violence in the time of (Iraq) war is viewed as non-patriotic. Nothing could be more patriotic that working for peace," he said.

"The possible closure of the centre will lead to removal of the statue of Gandhi, and shifted to some warehouse," said Hemendra Acharya, a local resident, who sees the statue as a link between India and New England.

Acharya is thinking of mobilising the local Indian American community and raise money to save the centre from closing down.

"We must come together and raise funds. Few dollars per each family member will help in saving this statue and making it a permanent part of the New England landscape," Acharya said.

But it is not merely the Gandhi statue that is in danger. The centre also provides services for special needs children. It also houses shrines, meditation rooms, conducts weekly meditation services and workshops on pacifism, and displays texts from 12 major faiths including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity.

Also enclosed within the sprawling green space is a statue of Mother Teresa, the magazine reported.

Meanwhile, Randa is already looking to sell the memorial to an "angel donor" who would purchase the property and allow The Peace Abbey to continue its activities.