A digital interactive exhibition celebrating the life and achievements of Mahatma Gandhi is being showcased in Melbourne from April 5 to July 15. The display honours the period of Gandhi’s stay in South Africa and his subsequent personal transformation from the experience. His migrant history led to profound learnings that influenced him and India on the broader scale.
Victoria is proudly home to the largest Indian population in Australia. More than 209,000 Victorians have Indian ancestry. The Victorian government has demonstrated commitment to strengthening and celebrating personal connections with India by designing Victoria’s India Strategy (Victoria’s India Strategy: Our Shared Future) for a mutually beneficial partnership. This show is just one of many upcoming events celebrating Victoria’s Indian connections.
Featuring film footage and audio recordings, presented through an array of digital interactive experiences, the exhibition brings to life the person and period critical to India’s rich history.
The exhibition has been curated from more than 1,000 archival photographs, 130 minutes of footage, 60 minutes of film clips and 20 voice recordings of Gandhi’s speeches.
Given that many of us do not know the details of Gandhi’s life as a migrant, this exhibition provides the perfect chance to look more closely at his transformative journey when he migrated from India to England and then to South Africa and the experiences that eventually turned him into a force of change that led India to its freedom.
The exhibition has multiple story displays, interactive panels, a bioscope, the Indian Opinion newspaper’s original printing machine, the Charkha and much more. One can even take a photo with a life-like replica of Gandhi in a specially designed selfie booth.
Speaking to The Indian Telegraph exclusively, Rohini Kappadath, the general manager of Immigration Museum, Victoria, discussed the state’s strategic plans to connect with people across cultures in line with the Victoria’s India Strategy. She enthused about Gandhi’s ability as an original thinker to galvanize an entire nation on the path of truth and non-violence.
Kappadath believes that we are in a state of a ‘moral leadership vacuum’. And to fill this vacuum we need to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings, as they are still a potent, living contemporary force in the 21st century. She further said that she expects people to draw positive energy from such exhibitions to bring about harmony and sense of belonging in our community.
Also present at the opening was Birad Yajnik, a celebrated speaker, renowned author of the photo biography of Gandhi titled Peace Truth Ahimsa, and curator of the digital museum. Yajnik’s name is synonymous with galvanising speeches about Gandhiji, his teachings and their practical applicability in today’s world. He shared with The Indian Telegraph his painstaking journey to create the photo biography of Mahatma Gandhi, and how his teachings served as motivation for his work and life.
Yajnik is the creative head behind Peace Truth Ahimsa, an initiative that enables students and adults to explore Mahatma Gandhi and his life. He uses infotainment technology, interactive talks, rich media visualisations, collaborative art and culinary experiences to weave a journey from the past to empower the participant with values to influence the future.
Yajnik’s Ahimsa Harley, ‘Tea, Salt and Whites Only’ and World Citizen Passport initiatives have motivated people around the world and helped them to understand and emulate teachings of Gandhi. However, he modestly sees himself as a facilitator who enables people to communicate and discover themselves. His vision to unite the world with truth and non-violence is evident in his digital art.
“Mr Jamshedji Tata’s second son, Sir Ratanji Tata had initially funded the Indian Opinion newspaper’s printing by donating Rs. 1.25K to South Africa in the early 1900s. Gandhiji had officially acknowledged this monetary contribution. My team and I couldn’t be more proud and happy to have continued that legacy,” Yajnik told The Indian Telegraph.
This digital museum seems very relevant in today’s world. With the interactive messages of truth and non-violence, Gandhi’s lifetime achievements, his struggles and his teachings are a conscious efforts to contextualise Mahatma Gandhi for the 21st century world and younger generations to come.