Junagadh, Oct 2 (UNI) Today is Gandhi Jayanti and as usual, netas and celebrities pay ritualistic obeisance to the Mahatma.
Politicians, clad in spotless white kurtas and Gandhi topis, eulogise the father of the nation and the sacrifices he had made in their speeches. However, all is forgotten the very next day. This is witnessed every October 2 during the Mahatma's birth anniversary.
But what was Mahatma Gandhi's attitude towards his birthday? Did he ever celebrate it in a manner that would mean that he was treating it as a happy occasion? He had once said that he wished to live for 120 years, though it was said much before politics in the subcontinent had become overtly communal.
Mahatma Gandhi arrived in India from South Africa on January 9, 1915 and never returned to that country. If one analyses the period of 32 years dating from October 2, 1915 to October 2, 1947 and then until his death on January 30, 1948, there is clear evidence of his simplicity and unobtrusiveness.
Once, when his wife Kasturba was lighting a lamp filled with ghee on his birthday, Mahatma reproached her saying she should not waste ghee as many poor families had no lamps to light at night.
It is interesting to see where Mahatma spent his birth anniversary after his return from South Africa.
On October 2, 1915, he was in Ahmedabad and continued to be there during the following year. In 1917, he was at Ranchi (now in Jharkhand).
During 1918, he was in Sabarmati ashram but he was ailing and bed-ridden for 15 days. He was suffering from a heart problem and doctors had advised him complete rest, saying he had irregular heart beats and unless he took complete rest, he could die. He had then called his two sons -- Devdas and Harilal -- fearing the worst. His birthday passed as he lay in bed for 15 days.