Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated every year on 2 October as the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, often known as Mahatma Gandhi. The day provides an excellent opportunity for the countrymen to pay tribute to this great leader, who laid down his life for the betterment of the country.
Mahatma Gandhi is also addressed as the Father of the Nation. He led India’s independence movement along with many other national leaders against British rule in India. His method of nonviolence inspired many civil rights movements around the world. To celebrate his contribution to the nation, every year 2 October is observed as a national holiday. This day is also celebrated by the United Nations as the International Day of Nonviolence.
Gandhi Jayanti is a national holiday in India and is celebrated in all states and union territories. The day is celebrated across the country with special prayers and tributes. The school level and college level celebrations are worth watching. Various types of competitions are organized for the students in the memory of Gandhiji.
The best colleges and schools are rewarded. Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Gandhiji’s favorite bhajan, is sung by school and college students. Statues of Mahatma Gandhi are decorated with wreaths and flowers in all parts of the nation. Since Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti is a gazetted holiday, this government office remains closed.
Biography of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in the small princely state of Porbandar in the Gujarat province (Northwest). His full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi was born as the third son in a wealthy Hindu family. His father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi, was a high-ranking official of the area.
His father served as the Diwan of Porbandar State. His mother was Putlibai. Mohandas was the youngest of four children. He had two brothers and a sister. At the age of 13, Gandhiji was married to Kasturbai Mohandas Gandhi, whose age was one year more than Gandhiji, that is, 14 years. Child marriage was a practice at that time.
His father passed away in 1885, and in the same year he and his wife lost their first child. The Gandhi couple had four sons in their later years.
Gandhi received his primary education in Rajkot, where his father was transferred as Diwan to the ruler Thakur Sahib. He went to Alfred High School in Rajkot at the age of 11. In 1887, at the age of 18, Gandhi graduated from a high school in Ahmedabad. Later he joined a college in Bhavnagar.
He then moved to London in 1888 to study law from University College. After completing his studies, he was invited to enroll in the Inner Temple to become a barrister and then returned to India in 1891 after his mother’s death at the age of 22. He failed to establish a successful law career in both Rajkot and Bombay.
In 1893, he moved to Durban, South Africa on a one-year contract to solve the legal problems of Abdullah, a Gujarati merchant.
South Africa during the 1800s
The British colonized and settled in the Natal and Cape provinces of South Africa during the 1840s and 50s. The Transvaal and Orange Free States were independent Boers (British and Dutch settlers) ruled states. Boers means farmer settler in Dutch and Afrikaans. The colonial territories (Natal and Cape) were governed by a minority white population, which enforced segregation between the government-defined races in all areas.
Indian immigration to South Africa began in the 1860s, when whites recruited indentured Indian workers (indentured people), especially from South India, to work on sugar plantations. Later many Indian traders, mostly Memon Muslims also left. By the 1890s, children of former indentured laborers had settled in South Africa and formed a third group.
Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa
In 1893, Mohandas Gandhi witnessed extreme apartheid or racial discrimination against Asians in South Africa. His journey from Durban to Pretoria saw the famous incident when he was ejected from the first class compartment by a white man at Pietermaritzburg station. On reaching Johannesburg, he was refused rooms in hotels.
These experiences prompted him to stay in South Africa for a long time to organize Indian workers to enable them to fight for their rights. He began teaching English to the Asian population there and tried to organize them against oppression.
After the culmination of his Abdullah case in 1894, he stayed there and planned to help Indians oppose a bill to deny them the right to vote. He founded the Natal Indian Congress and molded the Indian community into a unified political force.
Gandhi’s Return to India
In 1915, at the request of Gokhale, conveyed by CF Andrews, Gandhi returned to India to help in the Indian struggle for independence. After returning to India, Gandhi visited the country for a year at Gokhale’s insistence. Then he established an ashram in Ahmedabad to settle his Phoenix family.
He first raised the issue of indentured laborers in India and thus continued his fight to end it in South Africa. Gandhiji joined the Indian National Congress and was introduced to Indian issues and politics and Gokhale became his political mentor.
The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 was the first civil disobedience movement organized by Gandhi. And then he organized the Kheda Satyagraha Non-Cooperation Movement in 1918. The Ahmedabad mill strike in 1918 was Gandhi’s first hunger strike and then organized the Khilafat movement in 1919.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on 13 April 1919. Seeing the spread of violence, Mahatma Gandhi withdrew the civil disobedience on 18 April.
In 1920, Gandhi persuaded the Congress leaders to launch a non-cooperation movement in support of Khilafat as well as Swaraj. The non-cooperation program was adopted in the Congress session of Nagpur, then in 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident took place, due to which Gandhi started the non-cooperation movement back.
In 1930 Gandhi announced that he would lead a march to break the salt law as the law gave the state a monopoly on the manufacturer and sale of salt.
During the Gandhi Irwin Pact in 1931, Gandhi accepted the ceasefire offered by Irwin and withdrew the Civil Disobedience Movement and agreed to attend the Second Round Table Conference in London as a representative of the Indian National Congress. And then in 1932 there was the Poona Pact, which was an agreement between BR Ambedkar and Gandhiji regarding communal awards.
In 1934 he resigned from the membership of the Congress Party as he did not agree with the party’s position on various issues. Gandhi returned to active politics in 1936 with the Lucknow session of the Congress, where Jawaharlal Nehru was the president.
In 1938, the principles of Gandhiji and Subhas Chandra Bose clashed during the Tripuri session, leading to the Tripuri crisis in the Indian National Congress.
The outbreak of World War II in 1942 and the final and crucial phase of the national struggle in India came together. The failure of the Cripps Mission gave rise to the Quit India Movement.
Death of Mahatma Gandhi
On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was going to address a prayer meeting at Birla House in New Delhi, when Nathuram Godse fired three bullets from his chest. fired, causing his immediate death.
Significance of Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated to honor Mahatma Gandhi, a political moralist, anti-colonial advocate, spiritual leader and Indian lawyer. A man of short stature, soft spoken and extremely sympathetic, who brought all Indians together and made them understand the importance of staying united against all odds.
Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated on 2 October to mark the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. This is the day when all the countrymen come together to pay tribute to this great man who helped in getting the country free from colonial rule. He was a firm believer in religious pluralism and a harbinger of truth and non-violence. He worked tirelessly to make India a secular country.
Gandhi Jayanti is a day to pay tribute to the eminent leader who guided people to fight for their rights by following a non-violent approach. He also condemned untouchability and caste system in the country. Based on his principles and teachings, India launched the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ i.e. Swachh Bharat Mission on 2 October 2014 to improve solid waste management in rural and urban areas and end open defecation in India. Gandhi Jayanti holds great significance for the people of India. Moreover, it is not just a celebration but a day to remember and follow the beliefs, teachings and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi.