Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday
The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, is celebrated with astonishment all over the country. He is the man who played an important role in getting independence for India from the British Empire with his ease and strong will power. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as ‘Bapu’ or ‘Father of the nation’, was born on the 2nd of October in 1869, in Porbunder, Gujarat. He studied law in U.K and practiced law in South Africa. But he left his occupation and returned to India to join the Indian freedom struggle.
Memories of Gandhi Jayanti go back a long way, to the school days. Gandhi Jayanti did not invite any celebrations. Still, it filled us with enthusiasm, because the week starting on October 2 was special. That was the time when there would be little home work and even less class work. Lessons successfully ended by lunch-hour, and in the second half of the day we would just ‘work’. We would dig up the earth at the back of the school and plant saplings, we would go around to the hutments and deliver free medicines, we would paint a few walls…a variety of odd jobs that kept changing by the day, by the year.
Later, when the week regularly dwindled and disappeared under the force of academics there was a twinge of lament at the loss of good times. But while it lasted, we didn’t know what it was all about, only that it was somehow linked with Gandhi Jayanti. We didn’t ask, either – we loved what we were doing, and that was enough. It was much later that we found out the reason for the service that we had done. It was our way of remembering the service that Mahatma Gandhi had rendered to the nation, our way of carrying forward his attitude of helping oneself by helping others, his dream of acquiring self-sufficiency, and his mission of building a strong nation. It was our oath that we would remember Mahatma Gandhi and his contribution to the building of the Indian nation.
Today, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday is observed and honored across the world through the International Day of Nonviolence, as initiated by the United Nations. Just a few months before his shooting, which occurred exactly 60 years ago (January 30, 1948), Gandhi delivered a unique speech in English that was recorded. It is one of only two of his speeches delivered in English which is known to have been conserved in audio form (several of his public speeches were given in Hindi or regional Indian dialects), and until recently was basically unknown.
If there was one man who was instrumental in acquiring independence for India, it was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. This was the man – slight, bespectacled and mild in manner – who controlled the National Movement for nearly three decades. A mass leader, he believed that he should recognize himself with the masses he leads.
M K Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a small town on the Gujarat coastline.
After his early education in India, he was sent to London where he trained as a barrister. After attempting practice in Bombay for a few months, he went to South Africa as advice for a wealthy Muslim client. Though he was invented to return after the case was sorted, he continued his stay there till 1914, leading the Indians there against the apartheid of the British. His stretch in India took a turn when national leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale initiated him into the Indian freedom movement. Gandhi, with his ideals of ahimsa, non-cooperation and Satyagraha, soon recognized himself as the front runner in the struggle for freedom.
From then, till India gained independence, Gandhi gathered a whole nation behind him in his ruthless quest. But Partition was a big blow to his dreams and ideals, and Gandhi was a sad man on the night of India’s Independence.
Five months after independence, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse while on his way to his daily prayer meeting. The 78-year-old Father of the Nation had left a country that was just discovering its feet, orphaned. His birthday was recognized as a National holiday.
Mahatma Gandhi was a simple man, with simple tastes and high values. Regarding that, even though Gandhi Jayanti is a national holiday, the festivities are least.
A prayer meeting is held at Rajghat, Gandhi’s Samadhi in New Delhi. To mark the respect that Gandhi had for all the religions and communities, legislature from different religions take part in it. Verses and prayers are read out from the holy books of all the religions. Gandhi’s favorite song, Raghupati Raghava, is regularly sung at all the meetings connected with him. Prayer meetings are held in a variety of state capitals as well. Gandhi Jayanti is observed all over the country, both in government and non-government forums.