Today we celebrate Gandhi Jayanti, the birthday of Mahatama Gandhi, the father of the nation, who was one of the key figures in India’s freedom movement. He was known for his non violent protests which have inspired many around the world. Gandhi Jayanti is observed as a national holiday all through India, in all states and union territories to observe the occasion of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
The United Nations General Assembly on June 15th 2007 declared October 2nd as the International Day of Non-Violence to mark the Mahatma’s birthday.
Mahatma Gandhi was born, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2nd 1869 in Porbandar,Gujarat to Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai Gandhi. Growing up with a devout mother, young Gandhi absorbed early in life the influences that would play an important role in his life, these being:
- Compassion for sentient beings
- Fasting for self purification
- Mutual tolerance among individuals of different faiths.
In 1883 Mohandas Gandhi, only 13 years of age married a 14 year old Kasturba Gandhi in an arranged child marriage, as was the custom in the region. In 1888 Gandhi travelled to London to study law at the University College of London to get trained as a barrister. Gandhi returned to India in 1891 and began to practice law. In 1893 Gandhi accepted a job in South Africathat involved talking care of a long and complex case involving a large Indian firm from Porbandar. While in South Africa Gandhi was thrown out of a train even though he had a first class ticket, on the demands of a white passenger, it was this incident that triggered Gandhi to call together a meeting of the Indian community in South Africa and point out to them the desolate circumstances under which they lived and made them take a vow that they would never tolerate racial discrimination at the hands of white people. This even led to Gandhi being imprisoned in South Africa.
In 1901 Gandhi decided to return to India as he believed that if he stayed on in South Africa he would only end up becoming a prosperous barrister. Upon his return to India, Gandhi regularly attended meetings of the Indian National Congress and became involved in their operations. Gandhi founded a newspaper called Indian Opinion in 1904 which he edited and wrote for and touched upon topics as broad as politics to birth control.
By 1930 Gandhi was deeply involved in the Indian freedom struggle and was known for his non-violent methods of protest which included indefinite fasts and marches, including his famous march to Dandi in protest of the taxes implemented by the British Government on salt.
In 1934 Gandhi launched an All Indian Village Industries Association in which a ban was imposed on all British made goods, to the extent that piles of British made cloth was burned in the middle of marketplaces. In 1942 Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India movement against the British and finally in 1947 India received independence from the British after a long and hard struggle and sacrifice by many.
Mahatama Gandhi will always be remembered as an important figure in the history of independence as it was his determination and perseverance that ultimately helped India attain freedom. This great man was assassinated on January 30th 1948 while he was on his way to attend a prayer meeting.
Interesting Trivia on Mahatma Gandhi:
- Gandhi’s nickname at school was Moniya.
- Mahatma Gandhi was only 13 years old when he married the 14 year old Kasturba Gandhi.
- Between 1893 and 1914 Mahatma Gandhi lived in South Africawhere he was practicing law.
- Gandhi was a vegetarian and undertook long fasts for self purification and social protests.
- While at university in England, Gandhi was elected to the vegetarian society executive committee of which he founded a local chapter.
- While studying in England, Gandhi tried learning dancing and playing the violin to try and live more like an Englishman, but later gave it up for a simple living.
- Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 5 times between 1937 and 1948 but never won it.
- Gandhi undertook a vow of celibacy in 1906.
- In 1921 Gandhi discarded his clothes and shaved his head and wore only a loin cloth.
- Gandhi had four sons; Harilal, Manilala, Ramdas and Devdas.