Centenary celebrations to retrace Bapu’s arrival in India from SA

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 09 Januari 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The nation is preparing to celebrate a milestone centenary in India's history on Friday, January 9. It was on this day in 1915 t hat Mahatma Gandhi had returned home from South Africa to steer the course of India's destiny.

His presence charted the path of a unique non-violent struggle that helped India shake off the yoke of British slavery in 1947.

On Friday afternoon, around 2pm, Gandhian organizations, including the Sarvodaya Mandal and Mani Bhavan, will retrace the path of Bapu's arrival in a colourful procession from the Gateway of India.

Rajesh Shinde of the Mandal said, "Lookalikes of Gandhiji and Kasturba will be seated in a horse carriage to signify their arrival. The rally will wend its way to Mumbai University where a half-hour meeting is scheduled at the convocation hall. Scores of college students will join and the mayor will also be present."

Mumbai University is taking an active part in the celebrations in order to familiarise the young generation with Gandhiji's ideals.

On Saturday, January 10, Mani Bhavan will host a lecture on Gandhiji by historian Ramchandra Guha. Another interesting commemoration is lined up next week. Mani Bhavan spokesman Meghshyam Ajgaonkar said, "A few days after he arrived, on January 13, Bapu was felicitated by a group of citizens at a public hall in Hira Baug, C P Tank. The same day next week, writer Giriraj Kishore will address a meeting on Gandhian thought."

On January 17, a troupe led by artiste Yashodhara will perform the English version of a play 'Jagdamba' by Ramdas Bhatkal at Mani Bhavan. The play focuses on the life and times of Kasturba.

Bapu's heirs and his followers say his return to India was prompted by his mentor Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Gandhiji's granddaughter Ushaben Gokani said, "It was Gokhale who urged him to return. For 21 years, Bapu had fought against racial discrimination of Indians in South Africa but now his country needed him," Gokhale said. "It was he who urged Bapu to travel throughout the country to feel the pulse of the nation. Bapu travelled by third class railway coaches despite the discomfort of poor toilets and cramped compartments in order to acquaint himself with the plight of the people."

Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma's great grandson, said Bapu's homecoming gave a shot in the arm to the Independence movement which was floundering and rudderless at the time. "It was then that Indians across the country became bound by a common zeal to evict the British. Do remember that it was Bapu alone who had made the British acknowledge him in South Africa and concede to his demands," Gandhi said. "His return also hastened the process of social reform and economic independence in India."

Interestingly, the family has not been invited to join any official celebration by government or political parties.

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