The United States is home to not only the growing community of Indian immigrants but also their revered deities. For the first time, the world’s oldest democracy will witness the rare confluence of Buddhist values, equality message, spiritual teachings, and Indian history at one place near the White House, with the scheduled unveiling of Dr BR Ambedkar’s 19ft statue in Maryland on October 14. Termed as the Statue of Equality, the Ambedkar statue will democratize the nation further by sharing space with the Statue of Liberty and the Statue of Freedom in the northeast US.
The world’s largest Ambedkar statue outside India is the center of attraction in the upcoming Dr Ambedkar Memorial complex spread over 13 acres in Accokeek City of Maryland, about 20 miles from Washington DC. To be built for $1.5 million, that is a mere 1% of the total cost of the world’s largest BAPS Akshardham Temple, the Ambedkar Memorial will memorialize the Indian visionary of the modern world and spread his ideals on the American soil, where many Indian immigrants including Kala Bagai have been subjected to racism.
A beacon of equality in the land of the American Dream, the statue of Ambedkar in Maryland depicts Babasaheb holding the Indian Constitution in his left hand. It is designed by India’s renowned sculptor Ram Vanji Sutar who breathed life into the world’s tallest Statue of Unity in Gujarat and India’s tallest statue of Ambedkar (108 feet) in Hyderabad, Telangana. The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee also sculpted the 108-ft tall statue of Kempe Gowda at BLR International Airport, among 90+ sculptures in India, the US, France, Italy, Russia and other countries.
Other than the Statue of Equality to be unveiled in Maryland this October 14, the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial will feature Buddhist sculptures, a memorial hall, a residential center, a library, fountains, beautiful gardens, and a souvenir shop among the facilities and attractions celebrating the father of the Indian Constitution. If things fall in place as planned, the project will be completed in 2025.
Among the highlights of the Ambedkar Memorial near Washington DC is Buddha Garden featuring a 6ft Buddha statue as the Symbol of Peace and Humanity. The statue made of white marble will be seated against a replica of Sanchi Stupa. Buddha Garden, also known as the Garden of Enlightenment, will be adorned with sculptures, statues, and murals mirroring the Buddhist art and architecture. The garden will be landscaped with rocks whereon the spiritual lessons of Lord Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar’s inspirational quotes will be engraved.
Another attraction is a replica of the Ashoka Pillar harking back to the Mauryan era when propagation of the Buddhist ideology reached its zenith in India and abroad. A mile-long ‘wisdom trail’ meandering through the Garden of Enlightenment and featuring statues of spiritual reformers on both sides will take visitors on an enlightening walk. Nalanda Library, among the state-of-the-art facilities, will be designed as a treasure of Buddhist literary works and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s thought-provoking works for research enthusiasts from across the world.
In Maryland’s Dr Ambedkar Memorial, the main building spanning 3000 sq. ft will house innovative exhibits related to the life of Babasaheb, one of the founding fathers of India. Equipped with massive display screens and advanced sound systems for presentations, the building can accommodate 150 members during a conference or event. The memorial is envisaged as a ‘center for social change initiatives, learnings, cultural and economic developments, conferences, celebrations, and the propagation of Ambedkar’s philosophy throughout the United States’.