Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated in India on the 2nd of October every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who has been unofficially conferred the title of Father of the Nation.
It is also the day that the United Nations has declared as the International Day of Non Violence. Gandhi Jayanti is one amongst the 3 gazette holidays in India.
He was and is known as Bapu for his extreme compassion towards the people of all race and creed and for the downtrodden of the society at a time when casteism was rampant. He is a pre eminent figure in the Indian independence struggle and revered as such. In 2016 Gandhi Jayanti will be observed on a Sunday.
Who was Mahatma Gandhi?
Mahatma Gandhi is one of the national leaders of the first order, born and brought up in Gujarat, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi trained in law at the Inner Temple college in London. He worked in South Africa where he first used the theory of civil disobedience. He returned to India and got involved in Indian National Congress and subsequently assumed the leading role in India’s struggle for independence from the British colonial rule.
Early life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in a business family in Porbandar on 2nd of October 1869. His father was the Diwan of the princely estate. Restless as a child, the stories of Shravana and King Harishchandra had great impact of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. While continuing with his basic education, when he was 13, Mohandas Karamchand was married to 14 year old Kasturbai Mkhanji Kapadia in a child marriage. Later on they went to have 4 sons.
In 1887 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi completed his matriculation and was considered to be good enough to pursue law and become a barrister. In London, Gandhi studied at the Inner Temple pursuing Law and Jurisprudence. After graduating he came back to Bombay, now Mumbai but couldn’t pursue a successful career as he could never cross examine the witnesses. However he took a one year’s contract and went to South Africa to earn a livelihood.
In South Africa Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi faced severe discrimination targeted at all colored people. These discriminatory activities and social injustices prompted a spark in him and was the turning point of his life, where he learnt to stand up against injustice and spoke for justice. When Gandhi came back to India in 1915 he was proficient in public speaking fundraising promotions etc.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi then joined Indian National Congress and demanded for the independence of India. The British Government did not recognize the demands, but started dialogues and negotiations. He propounded the doctrine of non violence and swaraj. He organized the Dandi march, where he walked 388 kilometers against the tax levied on salt, sat for long hunger strikes and peaceful resistance to demand complete independence from the British rulers. He led the Champaran and the Kheda agitation in 1918 in Bihar and Gujarat.
Gandhi was a champion for women’s emancipation. He strongly opposed purdah, untouchability, child marriage, oppression of the widows etc and spoke vociferously against such causes. He inculcated women volunteers in the salt tax movement and the boycott of foreign products.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was kept imprisoned for 2 years in Aga Khan Palace in Pune during which his wife Kasturba and personal assistant passed away. He himself became severely unwell with a strong bout of malaria. He was released in 1944 due to the requirement of an immediate surgery and failing health.
Gandhi was strongly against the partition of India on the basis of religion and language. During the independence Gandhi was in Kolkata along with Shaheed Suhrawardy trying to stop riots and communal killings, and it is believed that had it not been for his efforts, then the bloodshed and body count would have been much higher. He was assassinated in the garden of Birla House on the 30th of January 1948 by Nathuram Godse.
Gandhi Jayanti celebration at Raj Ghat
Raj Ghat is the place where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was cremated. A memorial has been erected there where millions of people come to pay their homage. In Raj Ghat on Gandhi Jayanti the prayer meeting is attended by the Prime Minister, The President and various other dignitaries as well as thousands of common man. Gandhiji’s most favorite song Raghupati Raghava Taja tam is also sung on this occasion. Flowers and garlands are heaped at his feet as a token of respect.
Gandhi Jayanti celebrations in School
In most of the schools, Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated with serious devotion. There are various debates, discussion and other commemorative services organized in memory of Mahatma Gandhi. Children are encouraged to write speeches on Gandhi’s life lessons. Very small children on this day come dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, or lovingly and respectfully known as Bapu.
Other than this, various socio-cultural organizations present awards for non-violence, People perform various memorial services and prayers all over the country, all the state headsgarland the statues of Gandhiji as a mark of respect.
Three places have the most important memorial services to commemorate Gandhi Jayanti. One is the place where Bapu was assassinated, the Martyr’s Column in New Delhi, the Raj Ghat where he was cremated and the meeting place of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in Allahabad, the Triveni Sangam.
Gandhiji’s most favorite song, ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram”, a bhajan really, is performed in all the occasions that are held on this day.
On this day all the schools, colleges and offices remain closed in honor of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
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