BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta, GA, Aug 10: India American Cultural Association(IACA) organized a prayer meeting in honor of the former President of India and Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the IACA auditorium, on Thursday July 30. The solemn homage ceremony was attended by several leaders of the Indian American community; representatives of past and present Board and Executive members of IACA and Sanatan Mandir, and graced by the presence of Consul General Nagesh Singh and the president of Pakistan American Cultural Exchange, Iftikhar Sheikh.
After IACA President Vishwanath Ganti welcomed all, video clips on Dr. Kalam’s life and notable accomplishments were shown on the big screen.
Ganti then invited Nagesh Singh on stage to light the traditional diya, garland and make floral offerings to Dr. Kalam’s picture.
Nagesh Singh paid homage to “a remarkable life of a man who has become a pan-Indian icon.” “Dr. Kalam’s life and work was exemplary and would continue to guide and inspire us in the years ahead. For me two aspects were especially noteworthy amongst his various qualities. Dr. Kalam had transcended the various faultiness inIndiabased on religion, caste, region, language etc. to emerge as a national hero, loved and admired by one and all. He set an example for us to arise above narrow divisions and to work for the glory of the nation and the good of the masses. Secondly, he negated the impression that we have inIndiathat to succeed you have to be kin and kith of someone important or come from a rich, influential family. Dr. Kalam, though being born in a modest family of a boat man rose to the highest office in the land purely on the basis of his hard work, dedication and pursuit of excellence.”
“Dr Kalam’s life gives hope to the teeming millions in our country who come from the same milieu as Dr. Kalam that they can also reach the heights if they also work sincerely, with commitment and industry,” Singh added. “His work in space, missile and the nuclear field is well known, but his commitment to transformingIndia, socially and economically, through spread of scientific temper among masses and use of science & technology to solve our societal problems is also an important and lasting contribution in the service of the country. His humility and accessibility even as President of India made him a much loved leader, which is amply evident in the outpouring of grief and tributes coming from all corners of the nation. As we mourn for our loss and also celebrate this truly exemplary life of selfless service, let us dedicate ourselves to carrying forward the legacy of Dr. Kalam by making our own contributions towards nation building and making India a modern, progressive, prosperous and inclusive country. This then will be the real tribute to the departed soul.”
All stood up to observe a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for the departed soul of Dr.Kalam.
Sanatan Mandir’s priest Acharya Pramod Padhiji began his prayer with Shanti Path, a mantra for peace, harmony and happiness for all mankind. He followed it with reciting a few insightful slokas from 15th Chapter (Purushottam Yog) of the Bhagavad Gita. In his eulogy, he said that Dr. Kalam was a man of humility and simplicity, who despite being born in modest circumstances rose to the highest ad prestigious office of the President of India, through his commitment, drive and passion for science and technology. “Today is Guru Purnima and in Sanatan Dharma, we pay respect to our Gurus. Dr.Kalam was an exemplary Guru who endeared himself with children and youth by igniting their minds with his teachings and inspiring writings,” he said.
Mufti Mohammad Saiful Islam quoted from Dr. Kalam’s brilliant European Union speech in 2007,” Where there is righteousness in the hearts, there is beauty in the character, where there is beauty in the character there is harmony at home, where there is harmony at home, there is order in the nation and where there is order in the nation there is peace for the world.”
Bhai Karnail Singh ji of Gurunanak Mission Society of Atlanta inNorcross,GApaid glowing tribute to Dr. Kalam by telling a story from the life of Guru Nanak wherein Guru Nanak had taught that to be in public life and lead people on the path of righteousness is more important than being an ascetic. Dr. Kalam followed that to the hilt. Bhai Sahib then led the congregation in a prayer (“ardaas”) for the departed soul of Dr. Kalam which is also a prayer for the wellbeing of the entire world regardless of their religious affiliation.
Rev.Younis Farhat began his eulogy with a quote of few lines from poet Longfellow,”
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
“Dr. Kalam popularly known as The People’s President has left a legacy, and many may try to follow his footprints but his shoes will be very difficult to fill. He gave courage and hope to poor and downtrodden. He was a gentleman and a global leader,” Rev. Farhat added.
Dr. Wasi Siddiqui said that after the sad demise of Dr.Abdul Kalam,a very renowned poet of Urdu inIndiacomposed a poem in honor of Dr.Kalam. He read a few stanzas from the poem and later a summary in English, ‘The Indian nation is mourning its loss. The departed leader was a glowing star and a great pride of society. He was the pulse of the nation. Friends and foes alike are saddened by his passing away, and are glorifying his achievements. He was bestowed with honors but those well- deserved honors were late in coming.”
Gunvantbhai Naik sang a very uplifting Gujarati bhajan “ Parmatma Ae Atmane Shanti Sachi Aapjo.”
Social media was abuzz with tributes to President Kalam from theAtlantacommunity. Chairman of the Gandhi Foundation of USA (also former president and chair of IACA) Subash Razdan who also was present at the prayer service, wrote on FB: “Fresh after the dip in the ocean and the pilgrimage to one of the holiest of the Char Dham’s Ramnathaswamy Temple (in the Gulf of Mannar at the tip of Indian Peninsula connected through Pamban bridge from where reportedly Lord Rama built the Ram-Setu/Adams bridge to Lanka with his Hanuman Sena), he (Razdan) was extremely fortunate to pay his own chance homage to the legendary Kalam earlier in January 2015 when he physically visited the Higher Secondary school where the President studied and also the famous “House of Kalam” in Rameshwaram”. What a coincidence that the world’s greatest Karmayogi of Muslim origin, a true nationalist, humanitarian with compassion, would be born in one of the holiest Hindu places in India.”