An inspiring 485 underprivileged children walked in the footsteps of a political icon in Kolkata, India last week, when they successfully set a new world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Mahatma Gandhi.
The attempt formed part of a peace march organized by the charity TRACKS (Training Recourse and Care for Kids) as part of the commemoration of Martyrs' Day, which marks the anniversary of Gandhi's death in 1948.
Inspired by the work of Mother Teresa, TRACKS, is a registered Public Charitable Trust, managed by Trustees in UK and India that has been working to rehabilitate single mothers and their children from Howrah Station, Kolkata, since 1991
There are currently over 2,000 homeless people living at the station, with generations of families having been born there, and many more children arriving from neighbouring regions every day.
'Mahatma' Gandhi was born in 1869 and was an inspirational leader of India. Known for his non-violent means to achieve his goals, he led the Indian independence peaceful movement, which resulted in the independence of the country in 1947.
The children who took part in the attempt were all aged between 10 to 16 and walked as a group along Kolkata's Mayo Road until they reached the Gandhi Statue which stands as a tribute to his morals and ethics.
The youngsters had been taught about Gandhi's philosophy in schools by a group of volunteers during the weeks leading up to the event, ensuring that they were aware of who they were representing for the record attempt.
Michael Anthony who runs the NGO and who organised the record attempt along with Sumit Bhatts said:
"I am myself a Gandhi follower. This peace march is meant to inculcate Gandhi's values and messages in poor children. We don't want the underprivileged kids to forget the rich legacy of Gandhian ideology,"
Gandhi's granddaughter Usha Gokani, also took part in the peaceful march which was named 'RISE Up'.
She said: 'It's a great feeling. When my children heard of the effort they incited me to come to Kolkata. They said it may be a bit tiring for you, but the trip would be worth making. I now know they were right. I am moved by the passion for the father of the nation displayed by these children.'
Official adjudicators from Guinness World Records Andrea Banfi and Lucia Sinigagliesi had flown out from London to Kolkata to witness the attempt along with GWR's representative from India Nikhil Shukla.
The attempt was executed perfectly, with all 485 boys finely dressed in the Gandhi attire as outlined in the rules for the record, with each child wearing a white, dhoti-style garment, bald head (real or false), moustache (real or false) , and a pair of small circular eyeglasses , ensuring all those who took part gained entry into the Guinness World Records family.