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Skokie's Gandhi statue gets makeover 10-plus years later

Chicago Tribune

By Mike Isaacs -

More then 10 years after it was first installed, Skokie's life-size statute of Mahatma Gandhi will look as good as ever.

The site of the statute, north of the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park along McCormick Boulevard just south of Dempster Street, was recently remodeled.

According to Omprakash Kamaria, chairman of the Gandhi Memorial Trust, which erected the statute in 2004, the remodeling was done because of ground settling, uneven pavers and to improve drainage on the site. The concrete design around the pedestal was also fading, he said.

The statue was also to get a new professional polishing, Kamaria said.

The statue was the first life-size statue of Gandhi erected in Illinois. The 12-foot monument was unveiled Oct. 2, 2014, the anniversary of the birthday of the leader of the Indian independence movement.

"We all strongly believe that the statue will inspire millions to resolve their disputes and differences through non-violent, peaceful means," the Gandhi Memorial Trust states on a website dedicated to the statue. "It will also remind everyone about Gandhi's work in areas of discrimination towards untouchables and fighting injustices by satyagrah, civil disobedience and non-cooperation movements. This serves as a tribute to the father of the largest democracy in the world."

The statue itself is more than 8 feet in height, another 4 feet with the pedestal. It is constructed from bronze and was made to undergo limited maintenance. A core committee oversaw and completed the project including the design, construction and installation. It took four years to plan and complete.

Skokie's Indian American community gathers at the statue every October to celebrate Gandhi's birthday in a meaningful ceremony.

"We're here every year—rain or shine—to remember his birthday, but every day is an important day to remember his messages of peace," said Usha Kamaria of the Gandhi Memorial Trust during last October's ceremony.

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