Assembly Woman Jenifer Rajkumar Brings Mayor Eric Adams and Community Together to Unveil New Gandhi Statue


Our Bureau
South Queens, NY

On Sunday, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar—the first Hindu-American elected official in New York State—brought Mayor Eric Adams and the community together to unveil the magnificent new Mahatma Gandhi statue at Shri Tulsi Mandir, a beloved Hindu temple in South Richmond Hill. The Gandhi statue replaces one destroyed as a result of two separate vandalism incidents in August 2022.

When the statue was destroyed, Assemblywoman Rajkumar brought worldwide attention to the issue, gaining the support of the White House and drawing international news coverage. She brought together Mayor Adams and the community at the mandir, where they launched a worldwide movement for mutual understanding among all faiths and cultures. The Assemblywoman also convinced the NYPD to investigate the case as an anti-Hindu hate crime, one of the first ever classified as such in New York.

This week, Assemblywoman Rajkumar again brought together a diverse coalition of elected officials, community leaders, and people of all faiths to celebrate the historic unveiling of a brand-new Gandhi statue and the Gandhian values it embodies. Joining her and the Mayor were Assemblyman David Weprin, Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, Mayor Adams’ South Asian Community Liaison Sookranie Dhanpat, Tulsi Mandir founder Pandit Lakhram Maharaj, and Richmond Hill community leader Romeo Hitllal.

At Sunday’s unveiling ceremony, Assemblywoman Rajkumar spoke about the Gandhian principles of ahimsa (nonviolence) and satyagraha (love), which inspired her commitment to public service.  She spoke of honoring the Gandhi belief in not just respecting people of other backgrounds, but embracing them as if they are of your own. Assemblywoman Rajkumar also spoke of Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on the American civil rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously spoke of how Gandhi’s nonviolent movement for social change was his guiding light.  Assemblywoman Rajkumar spoke to the community about how achieving peace around the world, while not easy, is within our reach through love, hard work, and dedication.

During the event, Assemblywoman Rajkumar said, “I am here to say that hate against any group will not be tolerated in my district, in Queens, or anywhere in New York City. Vandals may have destroyed the first statue, but nothing can destroy our belief in the Gandhian principles of love, unity, nonviolence, and peace. Today, as a symbol of our everlasting faith, we proudly unveil a brand new Gandhi statue.”

She added, “Let us all, as Gandhi commands, be the change we wish to see in the world. Take a moment today to extend a hand and lay down the sword. Maybe even to embrace and show love to someone who does not do the same to you. It is the first step for a peaceful world.”

Mayor Adams recounted the inspiration he continues to draw from Assemblywoman Rajkumar’s event uniting the community in 2022 in the wake of the initial hate crime, saying that the Assemblywoman truly embodies the idea of embracing other cultures as her own. He expressed his deep admiration for Gandhi, whose teachings inspire his work as Mayor. He vividly described visiting Gandhi’s home and the powerful image of his preserved footsteps, serving as a permanent reminder of the importance of nonviolence and understanding. The Mayor also praised the Richmond Hill community for their commitment to tolerance, faith, family, and hard work, which serves as a shining example for all New Yorkers.

Mayor Adams said, “I thank you for allowing me to participate in this event. I often look at the photo we took together out front and how we all came together, and the diversity of those who were here because I agree with our Assemblywoman: our strength lies in our faith and, Assemblywoman, you personify that—your level of comfort of embracing all the different faiths in this City is what a true leader [is], not only in Albany but here in the beautiful rich neighborhood.”

He added that the event “is not only a symbolic unveiling, it is a commitment that we have that we’ll continue in the footsteps of our great leader, our leader Gandhi.”

Assemblywoman Rajkumar said afterward, “The unveiling of the new statue symbolizes our City’s resilience. As the statue rises, so too will love always rise above hate. A central tenet of Hinduism is inclusivity toward people of all faiths. Hindus believe not just in tolerance, but in one step more than tolerance—actively loving and welcoming people of different backgrounds and faiths. This was Mahatma Gandhi’s dream: a peaceful, loving world. We have achieved Gandhi’s dream in Richmond Hill, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Christians live together in harmony, often on the same block. Together, we are a powerful force inspiring peace and understanding throughout the world.”

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