Gandhi Jayanti — The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, is celebrated with reverence all over the country. He is the man who played a significant role in achieving independence for India from the British Empire with his simplicity 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 United Kingdom and practiced law in South Africa. But he left his profession and returned to India to join the Indian freedom struggle.
Gandhi ji was a preacher of truth and ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence). He started the ‘Satyagraha’ movement for the Indian freedom struggle. He believed in living a simple life and in ‘Swadeshi’. He proved to the world that freedom can be achieved through the path of non-violence. Gandhiji is a symbol of peace and truth.
On this day, the President and Prime Minister, along with other eminent political leaders, pay homage at Raj Ghat – the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi. All the offices and schools, throughout the country, remain closed on this day.
Memories of Gandhi Jayanti go back a long way, to the schooldays. Gandhi Jayanti did not invite any celebrations. Still, it filled us with excitement, because the week starting on October 2 was special. That was the time when there would be little homework and even less class work. Lessons effectively 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 gradually dwindled and disappeared under the pressure of academics there was a twinge of regret at the loss of good times. But while it lasted, we didn’t know what it was all about, only that it was somehow connected with Gandhi Jayanti. We didn’t ask, either – we loved what we were doing, and that was enough. It was much later that I 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 philosophy of helping oneself by helping others, his dream of acquiring self-sufficiency, his mission of building a strong nation. It was our pledge that we would remember Mahatma Gandhi and his contribution to the building of the Indian nation.