Today is a new holiday in India. There seems to always be one of those. And to be clear, I don’t try to say that Indians are always on holiday or vacation. But it is almost always some Holy day, or some festival somewhere in the country. You got it don’t you?
Today it is the Gandhi Jayanti, which is actually the birthday of none less than Mahatma Gandhi, also known as the “Father of the Nation”. Off course this is a day to celebrate!
A few days ago, I searched through my blog post of more than two years of blogging. And it turned out that I have hardly written anything about Mr. Gandhi. So I guess it is just right that I use his birthday to write about him.
Mr. Gandhi was born under the name of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi at the 2nd of October 1869. As it was quite common in India at that time, he married at an early age. Already at the age of 13 he got married to Kasturbai. Gandhi was probably not the easiest husband in the world, but Katurbai stood by his side for the rest of her life.
In 1888 he moved to London to study law. It was during his time here that he decided to be a vegetarian. In London he also got really interested in religion and read a lot of religious books in a number of religions. Based on this he started to think that everyone should live together peacefully regardless of what religion they belong to.
When he came back to India, he struggled to find himself a job. It was then easy for him to accept when an offer came to move to South Africa to work as a lawyer there. All together Gandhi went on to spend 21 years of his life in South Africa. This was where he first got really active in work against discrimination. When he took a train in South Africa he was told that he couldn’t sit in the first class compartment because he was dark. Furious about this he was part of the group that created Natal Indian Congress, an organization that worked for rights for Indians in South Africa. Due to this he had to serve his first term in jail. Totally Gandhi spent more than 2000 days in prison.
Due to his work in South Africa, Gandhi was a famous man when he returned to India in 1915. Here he joined the Indian National Congress and was introduced to the fight for independence. Gandhi was always in favor of doing the oppression against the British rulers without any violence. After the First World War was over, Gandhi and his team started to work against the British rulers. He did this by implying strikes in the country and to make the people not co-operate with the British.
One of the protests that Gandhi is most famous for is the big Salt March. Back at that time, in 1930 it was a rule that all the minerals in the country belonged to the Births and only they had the rights to use it. Gandhi was very much against this and issued a march to a place called Dandi, in Gujarat where he wanted to make salt himself. The British rulers did nothing to stop this, as they believed that the march would stop on its own. That didn’t really happen and Gandhi and his team managed to execute this march successfully.
Another thing that Gandhi was very much against was the use of Indian clothes. He insisted that all Indians should know spinning and be able to make their own clothes. Gandhi himself spent at least one our every day to spin. This he did for a number of years.
After World War Two, the British decided that they should quickly abandon India. One of the biggest issues they had to deal with then was what to do with the fact that India had a huge population of both Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi wanted all of them to live together peacefully in the same country. The Muslim leader was very much against this and insisted that the country should also be divided into two parts, so that the Muslims could have their own country. In this case Gandhi actually had to give in, and in 1947 when the British rulers left India it was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan.
After the partition there were quite a few people who were against Gandhi. Some of the Hindus meant that he hadn’t done enough for them when the country was divided. At the 30th of January 1948 Gandhi was assassinated by a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, an extremist group that held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by insisting that Pakistan should get payment when the country was divided into two.
According to Hindu tradition Gandhi was burned. More than two million people joined in his funeral procession at the 6th of February 1948. The “Father of the Nation” as he was called, had completed his journey.
Talk to you soon!