485 'Mahatma Gandhi' kids set world record

The children in Kolkata took part in a walk christened 'Rise Up,' marching out from Gandhi's statue on Mayo Road as his granddaughter Usha Gokani looked on

The city got a new entry into the Guinness World Records yesterday, with 485 children dressed as Mahatma Gandhi turning up for a peace walk, making it the largest such gathering. Aged 10-16 years, the children -- of single parents or from poor families -- took part in the walk christened "Rise Up" from near Gandhi's statue on Mayo Road in the presence of his granddaughter Usha Gokani.

Gandhi Sena: The kids were taught to walk and wield sticks like
Bapu. Pic/AFP

"It's a great feeling. When my children heard of the effort they egged me to come to Kolkata. They said it may be a bit tiring for you, but the trip was worth it. I now know they were right. I am moved by the passion for the father of the nation displayed by these children," said Gokani.

"This attempt at a new world record is successful. You will find the new record at our website within a fortnight," said Guinness World Records Ltd (GWRL) Adjudicator-India Nikhil Shukla.

The old world record was held by 255 children dressed as Gandhi at an event organised by the AVB Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore district June 13, 2010. For Panchu Srivastava (13), and Gopal Das (12), it was a special day. Like many others, they wore dresses made from khadi and sported glasses with round lensframes.

Both sons of single mothers live in the premises of event organisers Training Resources and Care for Kids (Tracks) -- an NGO based at Amtala in West Bengal's Howrah district. "For months we had been preparing for this. We were taught to walk like Gandhi, hold the stick like him and even look like him," said Srivastava.

"When we conceived the event, we never thought about making a world record. It was some of our backers in London who told us to go for the record," he said. However Shukla said it was up to the editors of the GWRL to decide whether the record will feature in its annual publication.

"Every year, we receive 40,000 applications worldwide. Only a small percentage of them are successful. But still the numbers are so huge that all new records cannot be included. "We are guided by readers' interest in this. But we are hopeful of this event making it to our annual publication. We will try," said Shukla.

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