'Munna Bhai' lends a hand in Nepal peace prayers

Oct 1, 2007 Sudeshna Sarkar

Kathmandu, Oct 1 (IANS) He may have not been chosen to represent India at the Oscars but Munna Bhai, the Bollywood character who is a favourite of millions in both India and Nepal, has been selected to take the message of non-violence to trouble-torn Nepal.

"Lage Raho Munna Bhai", the second film in the Munna Bhai series where the former don learns to turn the other cheek inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, is part of the nearly week-long programme organised by the Indian government with a partnering NGO to mark the 138th birth anniversary of the father of the Indian nation Tuesday.

The special celebration is also due to the fact that the UN has declared that from this year, Oct 2 will be observed worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence.

An ashram in Kathmandu that propagates the Mahatma's teachings and encourages people to spin the charkha, the spinning wheel that became a symbol of the austere and pure lifestyle practised by Gandhi, will kick off the celebrations Tuesday with an all-religion prayer meet.

Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims and Jains will pray together for amity and religious harmony, a prayer that is the need of the day in Nepal, which this month witnessed sectarian riots that killed at least 33 people, left thousands homeless and vandalised three mosques.

Followed by a symposium on the universal relevance of non-violence, the programme also includes a Mahatma Film Festival.

Besides the acclaimed "Gandhi" directed by Richard Attenborough and Shyam Benegal's docu-drama "The Making of Mahatma", the festival will also screen the hugely popular "Lage Raho Munnabhai".

Gandhi's teachings were put into practice by Nepal's leading political parties in their recent battle against King Gyanendra's absolute rule when they began "satyagraha" - the non-violent protest started by Gandhi against British rule in India that consists of civil disobedience without taking up arms.

For 19 days in April 2006, people from all walks of life halted all commercial and social activities, paralysing the royal government and finally forcing the king to step down.

Even the Maoists, who had waged a 10-year war demanding the abolition of monarchy, laid down their arms to join the unarmed protests that became one of the most successful revolutions in modern history.

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Lage Raho Munnabhai


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