Gandhi’s Legacy

By Manuel Martinez Alvarenga

Mahatma Gandhi Statue at Hermann Park. Courtesy of Author.

If you find yourself in the heart of Houston, chances are you have driven by Hermann Park, a green and interactive park with a large recreation area for picnics, casual strolls, and sightseeing nestled within an arm’s reach of the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District, and Rice University. The park is the perfect place to enjoy a little taste of nature in the city’s asphalt jungle and houses many eye-catching landmarks, such as the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Japanese Garden, a golf course, pedal boats, public artworks, and a miniature railroad.

Located on the north side of Hermann Park, the McGovern Centennial Gardens is a serene enclosure of themed gardens and the Hawkins Sculpture Walk, a collection of statues and sculptures of historic figures from around the world, including Confucius, Jose Marti, Simon Bolivar, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and others.

Krishna Vivilala (left) and mayor (right) holding a picture of the Gandhi statue at the unavailing ceremony in 2004. Courtesy of Krishna Vavilala.

The year 2019 marks 150 years since Gandhi’s birth and fifteen years since the venerable leader’s statue was unveiled and welcomed into Houstonians’ hearts. The story behind Hermann Park’s Gandhi statue represents the best qualities attributed to Houston and Houstonians, and the statue’s anniversary offers a fitting time to recognize the people who made its installation possible. Likewise, it seems fitting to meditate on the legacy of a great man who ushered India and Pakistan on the path to independence and then served as a role model for the many known and unknown heroes who risked their lives in the fight for equality. The work of Houstonian Krishna Vavilala proved crucial in the completion of the statue project and helped create a physical connection between the work of Gandhi and his influence on the U.S. civil rights movement.


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To learn more about the McGovern  Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park visit the Link Below.


If you would like to read more about the India Studies department at the University of Houston please visit the link below. You may also be interested in visiting the Houston History Magazine article on the Gandhi District.


If you would like to learn more about Krishna Vavilala and the history of the Houston Indo-American community, visit the links below.

Krishna Vavilala, dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, with his wife at the One Thousand Lights for Peace event at Miller outdoor theater.

If you would like to learn more about the Indo-American Non-Profit organizations that helped in the research for the article, please visit the links below.


ICC was incorporated in June 1973. ICC is a non-profit and secular organization, serving as a coordinating link among all major Indian Organizations and Individuals of Indian origin living in the Greater Houston and surrounding areas, on issues of common interest and concern.

The Foundation for India Studies (FIS) was registered in Texas, in 2005 as a non-profit 501(c3) organization with a vision to promote knowledge about India’s contribution to the world in the field of languages, literature, arts, sciences, engineering, politics, economics and spirituality.

Completed in July 2008, India House provides free services and programs in medical assistance, legal consultation, wellness programs with yoga and meditation; line dance, Tai Chi, Zumba and Language learning courses and many more activities and events.

The Mahatma Gandhi Library was founded in 2002 with the mission to increase public awareness, especially to the children, of Gandhian philosophy and teachings, highlighting the universal values of Peace, Truth, Non-violence, and Love.


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