The objective of the Ministry of Tourism’s “Dekho Apna Desh” webinar series is to create awareness about and promote various tourism destinations of India – including the lesser-known destinations and lesser-known facets of popular destinations.
The presentation started with Gandhiji’s attire of three-piece suit when he was a lawyer in South Africa.
When he returned to India in 1915, he started donning typical Gujarati attire.
Though Rabindranath Tagore hailed him as a ‘Mahatma’ in 1915, it was Madurai (famed for its temples and the cotton Sungudi sarees) that made Gandhi into a Mahatma, in the full sense of the term.
For, it was here that he discarded the western clothing, and donned the khadi, which remained his signature look, till his death.
On his second visit to Madurai in September 1921, Gandhi stayed in the West Masi Street and when he saw the daily wage labourers going to work without a shirt he was deeply moved by their plight, he removed his attire and adorned the four-metre Khadi dhoti.
An interesting anecdote is a reluctant invite to afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace by King George V to Gandhi and all Indian delegates to the Round Table Conference; reluctant, because Gandhi’s poor man’s dress was simply against the court etiquette.
But Gandhi was also equally adamantly pre-announcing that he would not re-clothe even to meet the King.
His stand was simple that the Indian poor were still naked because of Britain.
Later, when asked if he was not wearing enough clothes to meet the King, Gandhiji is reported to have famously remarked, “The king had enough on for both of us”.
In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi started his movement for Khadi as a relief programme for the poor masses living in India’s villages.
Spinning and weaving were elevated to an ideology for self-reliance and self-government.
Gandhi saw it as the end of dependency on foreign materials and thus giving a first lesson or real independence.
Raw materials at that time were entirely exported to England and then re-imported as costly finished cloth, depriving the local population of work and profits on it.
It was for economic, cultural and social reasons and not merely political that Gandhi established the Khadi Movement.
In 1934-35, he expanded the idea from helping the poor individual to the self-reliance of whole villages.
In 1942-43 he had sessions with workers groups and village organizers to re-organize the whole programme on a bigger country-wide scale. Thus, Khadi became not merely a piece of cloth but a way of life.
Sabarmati Ashram and Khadi
The birth of khadi as a symbol of India’s freedom struggle took place at Sabarmati Ashram.
One of the objects of the Ashram was that all inmates should wear hand-woven cloth made from Indian yarn.
The question was how to make the hand-spun yarn. The spinning wheel was not available nor was there any person who could teach spinning.
Gangaben Majumdar, whom Gandhiji met at the Broach Educational Conference and expressed the difficulty that the Ashram was facing, solved the problem.
She found the spinning wheel for Gandhiji in Vijapur in Baroda State. Thus, the spinning wheel came to the Ashram and the production of khadi began.
Dharwad is the only place in Karnataka where coloured cotton is grown.
After his death, when the Centre decided to establish a museum in memory of Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister after Independence, suggested the name of Madurai.
Accordingly, the palace of Rani Mangammal was selected and construction work was undertaken to convert the complex into a museum.
When Gandhi visited Madurai in 1946, the British government operated a special train for him and he travelled all alone in the train.
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS) was formed in September 1984 by the merger of Gandhi Darshan at Rajghat and Gandhi Smriti, at 5, Tees January Marg as an autonomous body, and is functioning under the constructive advice and financial support from the Ministry of Culture.
The Prime Minister of India is its Chairperson and it has a nominated body of senior Gandhians and representatives of various government departments to guide it in its activities.
The basic aim and objective of the Samiti are to propagate the life, mission and thought of Mahatma Gandhi through various socio-educational and cultural programmes.
Gandhi Smriti, housed in the Old Birla House on 5, Tees January Marg, New Delhi, is the sacred place where Mahatma Gandhi’s epic Life ended on 30 January 1948.
Mahatma Gandhi had lived in this house on September 9, 1947, to January 30, 1948.
Gandhi Darshan, the second campus, is situated adjacent to the Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat.
It came into existence in 169 to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi.