New Delhi, Oct 2: President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the country today in paying homage to the 'Father of the Nation', Mahatma Gandhi on his 138th birth anniversary. Patil, Singh and other leaders offered their tributes at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi here. Visiting Indian-origin American astronaut Sunita Williams also offered flowers at Rajghat, where a small prayer ceremony was also organised on the occasion.
Singh, who flagged of a rally here today, said: "On this day, we remember the great man who got us independence through non violence and Satyagraha."
Hundreds of men, women and children participated in the rally.
The United Nations has also announced that it will celebrate Gandhi Jayanati as "World Non-Violence Day".
In a tribute of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of brotherhood and peace, the United Nations General Assembly had in June declared Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary as the International Day of Non-Violence and urged member states to observe it each year in an appropriate manner.
Dozens of functions are being organised world over to commemorate the Day.
Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly today.
Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar in Gujarat. A lawyer by profession, he struggled for India's independence from British rule through peaceful non-violent ways.
Gandhi, who is largely credited as the architect of India's freedom from the 200-year-old British colonial rule, was a member of the Indian National Congress (INC).
The Mahatma, whose real name is Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi is venerated all over India. Mahatma Gandhi's message of non-violence, uprightness and care for the poor and downtrodden is taught at school level.
Gandhi, who would even observe "fast unto death" to persuade Hindus and Muslims to stop rioting, has been the symbol of secularism and a strong advocate against the deep-rooted caste discrimination.
His decades-long non-violent movement has inspired leaders like Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, who led a movement against racial segregation in South Africa.
In January 1948, at the age of 79, Mahatma Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic, as the former walked through a crowed garden in New Delhi to take evening prayers, less than a year after India became independent.
With bloodstains appearing on his white shawl, Gandhi simply folded his hands and said Hey Ram! Hey Ram!