124 nations offer musical tribute to the Mahatma

124 nations offer musical tribute to the Mahatma

Students pay floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary, at Rajghat in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)

Celebrity singers from 124 nations – from Shafqat Amanat Ali of Pakistan and Hou Wei of China to Farman Fathalian of Iran and Alexandra Maria Wilcke of Germany – have come together to offer a musical tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, as the 150th birth anniversary of the apostle of peace commenced on Tuesday.

The artistes sang 'vaishnava jana to tene kahiye je' – Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite ‘bhajan’ (spiritual song) – in a medley, which the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India put together for the occasion.

The medley, which features singers from over 40 nations, was formally launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the concluding session of Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.

Ali, Hou, Fathalian and Wilcke were joined by singing sensations from around the world – Cuba’s Laura Maria and Bobby Carcasses, Bathiya, Santosh and Umaria of Sri Lanka, Oman’s Haitham Mohammed Rafi, Farzana Naz of Afghanistan, Anita Lerche of Denmark and Rezwana Choudhury Banya of Bangladesh.

President Baron Divavesi Waqa of the Pacific island nation of Nauru sang the hymn for the medley, making a special gesture to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.


The Gujarati hymn which was penned by 15th-century poet Narsi Mehta. It was one of the favourite bhajans of Mahatma Gandhi, who included it into the roster of prayers routinely sung at the beginning of all his meetings.

The prime minister launched the medley at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre on Tuesday, in the presence of United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday for a four-day-tour.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti were also present at the concluding ceremony.

The idea of getting music legends from across continents to sing the Mahatma's favourite hymn was mooted by the prime minister himself. He complimented Sushma and the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), particularly those in the missions abroad, for making it a reality.

Spokesperson of the MEA Raveesh Kumar said that all diplomatic and consular missions of India abroad had got the celebrity singers of the respective countries to record the bhajan in the run-up to Gandhi Jayanti.

“The result is an eclectic, colourful and rich rendition of the hymn infused with the local flavour of the region. From Armenia to Angola, Sri Lanka to Serbia, Iraq to Iceland, prominent local singers/groups have showcased their talent to this favourite hymn of the Mahatma,” he said.

“One or two videos from different regions of the world were then put together in a fusion video of about five minutes to give a flavour of the bhajan as recorded by different artistes. It is expected to have a contribution from all the countries recognised by the United Nations," Kumar added.


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