India Cultural Garden

Dedicated in 2005, the Indian Cultural Garden was the first to be added to the chain of gardens since 1985, when the Chinese Cultural Garden was inaugurated. Individuals from all regions of India have immigrated to Cleveland with more coming from Gujarat than from any other Indian state. The U.S. census records individuals of Indian origin in Cuyahoga County as early as 1880, but these may have been ethnically British. From 1910-50 the census grouped Indians with other nationalities under a general heading so actual numbers of people are difficult to determine. A small number of Indians were definitely living in Cleveland in the 1920s. Estimates show the size of the community at 100 for the 1930s and the census of 1970 counted 307 Indians. By 1990 the community in northeast Ohio was 5,780.

Early Indian immigrants lived primarily in the east side suburbs such as Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. In the 1970s and 1980s they began settling in the western suburbs as well. It was estimated in the mid-1980s that 60% of the population lived on the east side and 40% on the west side of Cleveland. The Federation of Indian Community Associations of Northeastern Ohio, established in 1981, serves as an umbrella group for Clevelanders dedicated to the regional, cultural and social interests of the Indian population.

On October 1, 2006, a ten-foot tall, one ton sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi was dedicated in the Cultural Garden. Sculpted and cast by Gautam Pal in Calcutta India, Gandhi's figure stands ten foot tall and is made of bronze with a lead base. The granite base upon which the sculpture stands is approximately seven foot high and is inscribed with a Gandhi quote on its eastern side: "I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."

In 2007 the six granite Heritage Pillars were dedicated. Each Pillar represents a different tradition and commemorates people of note. The Artistic Traditions Pillar commemorates composers Thyagaraja and Miyan Tansen, musicians M.S. Subhalakshmi, Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain, conuctor Zubin Mehta, writers Rabindranath Tagore and Kabir, painter Raja Ravi Varma and filmmaker Satyajit Ray. The Connections Pillar is inscribed that "India and the United States are joined by shared philosophical beliefs. The Upanishads, a sacred Hindu text, influenced American writers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's commitment to nonviolence. Gandhi, in turn, had been influenced by the writings of Thoreau."

The Leadership Pillar recognizes leaders during times of peace and prosperity, freedom fighters, political leaders, business leaders and intellectuals from India's history. The Legacy Pillar commemorates significant Indian discoveries and inventions such as the cultivation and mordant dyeing of cotton (c. 4000BC) and the game of chess (c. 600AD). The Modern Indian Pillar's inscription says in part that, "The diverse, pluralistic society of modern India is home to seven major religions, fifteen major languages and thousands of dialects." The Universal Brotherhood Pillar has an inscription from the Maha Upanishad - "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The whole world is one family)."

Images

Audio

"A Very Powerful Statue"
Raj Pillai describes the emotional impact that the Gandhi statue can often have on visitors to the India Garden.
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"Not Exactly the Ganges"
Raj Pillai describes working with landscape architect Jim McKnight to incorporate the Doan Brook into the design of the India Cultural Garden.
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"Universal Brotherhood"
Raj Pillai discusses how the theme of universal brotherhood relates to the goals of the India Cultural Garden.
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