New Delhi: Artists from over 124 countries came together to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary by singing his favourite bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye‘. On Tuesday, the medley version of the bhajan was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the closing ceremony of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Conference (MGISC) held at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi. The gathering included among others, the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and other prominent personalities.
Penned by the 15th century poet Narsinh Mehta, the lyrics of ‘Vaishnava Jan’ centre around the idea of human empathy and sensitivity towards the suffering of others. Composed in Raag Mishra Khamaaj, the song has been sung and interpreted by many artists across continents, besides being included in the roster of prayer songs routinely sung at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.
In a press release, the MEA said that the government’s All India Missions abroad identified local artists or groups to record the bhajan in the run-up to Gandhi Jayanti. Keeping the local flavour of respective regions intact, multiple videos were collated to present an “eclectic, colourful and rich rendition of the hymn”. From Armenia to Angola, Sri Lanka to Serbia, Iraq to Iceland, popular singers from far flung regions sang the hymn in unison. They were put together in a five minute long video.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar uploaded the video to his official twitter handle.
Apart from contributions by local artists, President Baron Divavesi Waqa of Nauru himself sang the hymn.
Commencing on Tuesday, the MGISC is a four-day international conference bringing together sanitation ministers and other leaders in the water, sanitation and hygiene space from around the world.