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Dalai Lama sends letter of support to new Gandhi museum in Houston

January 24, 2019 GMT

Houston’s new Eternal Gandhi Museum will open in 2020 with an abundance of blessings - including one from the Dalai Lama himself.

Tibet’s spiritual leader wrote a message in support of the multimedia museum on Saturday, applauding the effort to bring attention to Mahatma Gandhi’s values in a modern and technologically-forward way.

“We need to understand what gives rise to inner peace and what destroys it in order to bring about a non-violent world,” he said. “The museum provides an opportunity to highlight the ancient Indian traditions that have produced an exemplary figure like Mahatma Gandhi. I wish this endeavor all success.”

The support came as a wonderful shock to Atul B. Kothari, a trustee for the Mahatma Gandhi Library, which is constructing the museum.

“We are speechless and we were so elated,” Kothari said. “For a person of his stature to take an interest in a project like this, we were very, very thankful.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner told leaders about the project when he visited the Gandhi memorial in New Delhi in November for a trade mission, city officials said.

“The Dalai Lama’s support for the Eternal Gandhi Museum in Houston is a huge boost to this exciting project, with the potential to give it the global attention it deserves, even before its doors open,” Turner said in a news release. “The kind words in his letter will also help us show that here in the nation’s most diverse city, we live the values of tolerance, inclusion and pluralism, which were among Gandhi’s most important teachings. We are a welcoming city, where one of every four residents is foreign-born and where we build relationships rather than walls.”

The project, which is privately funded, has raised $2.25 million out of the goal $8.5 million, according to city officials.

The museum doesn’t have a set opening date in 2020, but the trustees are hoping to break ground this year, Kothari said.

When it does open its doors, the Dalai Lama is more than welcome to join the celebration.

“He’ll get the first invitation, that’s for sure,” Kothari said.

samantha.ketterer@chron.com

Twitter.com/sam_kett