The capacity for human love and forgiveness was the theme of Wellington’s commemoration of 100 years since the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
An organiser, Dr Pushpa Wood, told the attendees that the attack in India a century ago was similar to last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, in that the massacres did not cause what was intended – instead they united people.
She pointed out that the Jallianwala Bagh deaths led to the fight for independence, while the Christchurch deaths have brought New Zealanders together to protect diversity.
Dr Wood stated that “Indians are used to trauma” and that it has become a normal part of life for them, but that it is not normal here in New Zealand.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester told the gathering at St. Peter’s Church that this comes down to individuals and corruption of power. He has young children are growing up in a multi-cultural world and do not see colour, nor judge as adults do.
He said he was proud of the Wellingtonian community for coming together just two days after the Christchurch Mosque shootings, saying “we will not tolerate this act of terror, extremism, and monstrosity”.
“Our role is to make sure that we stand against racism,” said Lester.
Dr. Wood spoke of how her grandfather would tell her about the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, but never let it “turn to hate in his heart”.
The message was simply this should never happen again, she said.
“This is our home, we’ve chosen this country to make our home. We have the same obligation to make this place safe like we would like our homeland to be,” said Dr Wood.
Nine members of the Wellington Indian Youth Group sang a non-denominational prayer to conclude the event.
Later in the year, there is also a proposal to bring to Wellington the Museum of Amritsar’s’ photo collection “Punjab Under Siege: The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre”.