International Day of Non Violence: History, Theme, Significance & Quotes

2 October is the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, more famously referred to as Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was an Indian lawyer and social activist who played a prominent role in India’s freedom struggle for Independence and promoted the concept of Ahimsa or non-violence.

His birth anniversary is annually celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti in India. In the year 2007, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring 2 October as the International Day of Non-Violence. Special prayers and services are organized  on this day at Gandhi’s memorial Raj Ghat in New Delhi, the national capital of India.

Objective

“Promotion of non-violence and peace through education and public awareness “ is one of the primary objectives behind the celebration of this day.  By observing this day, the United Nations intends to facilitate and secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding, and non-violence. On this day, various sessions and events are organized throughout the world to make people aware of Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy and philosophy on non-violence.

History

2 October is already being observed as Gandhi Jayanti almost since Independence. However, the importance of the day has been limited to India until recent decades. It was only in 2004 that an Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi proposed the idea to declare 02 October as International Day of Non-Violence for the first time. The idea struck India’s ruling Congress Party and the same was pursued officially at the United Nations.

On 15 June 2007, a resolution was passed by United Nations General Assembly in this regard. The resolution affirmed the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence and declared 02 October as International Non-Violence Day. There were 140 co-sponsors of the resolution showcasing the wide and diverse sponsorship received for the observance of this day worldwide. It reiterated the universal respect for the ideals and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi on non-violence.

Theme of International Non-Violence Day 2021

No theme has been decided for the International Non-Violence Day 2021 yet.  “Shaping peace together” is being circulated online as the theme of International Non-Violence Day 2020. However, the said information is not correct.  It was in fact the International Day of Peace (observed on 21 September 2020) for which the above mentioned theme was used.

Significance of Non-Violence

Non Violence has been used as an effective tool for political revolution and social change in the modern times. The principles of non-violence reject the use of physical violence.  Mahatma Gandhi used non-violence as a constructive tool to revolt against the British Rule in India. He popularized the concept of Ahimsa and believed it to be the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. Non-violence is in itself a multidimensional concept and an important doctrine of many religions or religious philosophies including Hinduism, Jainism & Buddhism.

Gandhi believed that the concept of Ahimsa and its applicability is best discussed in Jainism. He referred to Lord Mahavira as the greatest authority on Ahimsa. He not only preached about non-violence but also led several nationwide nonviolent movements which played an instrumental role in securing Indian Independence. These movements include the Non-cooperation movement, Civil Disobedience Movement, the Quit India Movement, etc. Gandhi is aptly also known as the father of the modern non-violence movement.

Quotes on Non Violence by Mahatma Gandhi

“Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.””An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

“Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong.”

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

“We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.”

“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.”

“I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before anyone even at the cost of your life.”

“Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.”

How to celebrate International Non-Violence Day?

The ideal way to celebrate this day would be to learn and educate ourselves about life and work-methods of Mahatma Gandhi. Amid these trying times, when the world is already scarred by an unprecedented pandemic, principles and philosophies are relevant for us more than ever and even in the smallest purview of our lives.  One can also participate in various programs, competitions, and sessions  that are scheduled to be virtually conducted on this day for public awareness on the importance of non- violence.

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