Until 1914, Gandhi led the Indians in South Africa against the apartheid of the British. His stint 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 established himself as the frontrunner in the struggle for freedom. From then onwards, till India gained independence, Gandhi gathered an entire nation behind him in his relentless quest. However, partition came as a big blow to his dreams and ideals. Five months after independence, Gandhiji 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.
On this day of Gandhi Jayanti, the President and Prime Minister, along with other eminent political leaders, pay homage at Raj Ghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi where he was cremated. Gandhi Jayanti is a national holiday and hence, all offices and schools, throughout the country, remain closed. Verses and prayers are read out from the holy books of all the religions. Gandhi’s favorite song, ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’, is invariably sung at all the meetings associated with him. Prayer meetings are held in various state capitals as well. Gandhi Jayanti is observed all over the country, both in government and non-government forums.
Gandhi Jayanti Significance
Mahatma Gandhi was born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 2nd October, 1869 in Porbandar, a coastal town in Gujarat. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, belonged to the Hindu Modh community while his mother, Putlibai, came from the Hindu Pranami Vaishnava community. His mother was Karamchand’s fourth wife, the former three wives died at the time of childbirth. Gandhi attended middle school in Porbandar and high school in Rajkot. He studied law in United Kingdom and went ahead to South Africa to practice as a lawyer. However, he left his practice and returned to India due to his love for his country and to fight for the freedom of his people.
Gandhi became a keen political leader and fought for the nation. His characteristic of getting identified separately from the mass made him popular among the Indians and British as well. To express his protests against the tax on salt, he undertook the Salt March from Ahmedabad to Dandi covering a total distance of 388 kilometers. He even founded the philosophy of non-violence (ahimsa) and truth (Satyagraha). Gandhi had a heart of courage and spirit of the unafraid. He had been imprisoned on several accounts during the freedom struggle.
Despite the hurdles and difficulties, Gandhi went ahead and played a significant role in making India an independent country. He even announced a fast of 21 days for the cause of ‘Harijans’. His ‘Quit India’ slogan proved a final signal for the British dominion in India. Gandhi’s teachings and practice are invaluable for the country and are largely used in providing peaceful solutions to problems and in solving current conflicts. Gandhi’s birthday is celebrated in his remembrance by the whole nation. His high thinking, simple living and strong willpower made him a revered leader of India.