On December 16th, a group of men sexually violently assaulted a 23-year-old university student for hours on a moving bus in New Delhi. The attack, which later killed the woman, has caused outrage across India and re-ignited conversations about violence against women around the world.
This week something extraordinary happened. In an unprecedented tribute to the victim, whose name was Jyoti Singh Pandey, 600 guitarists came together to play John Lennon’s Imagine, in a bid to spread “hope, peace and promise” in a country still coming to terms with the violence.
The group assembled at a music festival in the eastern hilltown of Darjeeling on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the brutal rape and murder.
“We chose this song because it talks about hope, peace and promise,” said Sonam Bhutia, tourism secretary of Darjeeling and one of the festival organisers.
“The song is so inspiring. It talks about a universe without any boundaries,” Bhutia said of the 1971 Lennon track.
“The tribute was a gesture on our part to show that we are with the victim’s family in their hour of unimaginable sorrow.”
The savage attack on the woman has triggered countrywide protests with calls for better safety and an overhaul of laws governing crimes against women.
Yoko Ono posted this message on her website in response:
I’d like to say thank you with all my heart to the six hundred guitarists who gathered and played IMAGINE together in India last week in protest to the terrible violence done to an innocent woman.
You have used your creative skill to make a powerful statement.
On New Year’s Eve, somebody suggested to me how about OCCUPY PEACE?
OCCUPY PEACE will bring an immediate result, since you could create it everywhere on Earth just by imagining.
I love the idea.
Start imagining covering the planet with OCCUPY PEACE. Occupy dark alleys. Forgotten parks, land roughed up by ignorance and anger.
In our world, at this time, it is a challenge to use our true wisdom and creativity to keep peace against violence and war.
But we will.
Follow the Indian musicians’ act of courage, and designate a time for all musicians of the world to play the song.
The Key of C is the key of Peace.
The purity of the sound will help heal our Earth.
John will be standing with you with his old Rickenbacker.
A group of 600 guitarists in Darjeeling paid a musical tribute to the Delhi gangrape victim, playing “Imagine” by John Lennon in a bid to spread “hope, peace and promise” in a country still coming to terms with the violence. AFP/Diptendu Dutta
Love WILL over come!
This moved us to tears, some for the pain experienced by Jyoti, and some because of this beautiful human response – did it move you as well?