By Anand Shrivastava
Mumbai, Jan.28 : Admirers of Mahatma Gandhi can have a lifetime opportunity in Mumbai to have an audience with his mortal remains and pay their homage before they are scattered over the Arabian Sea on his 60th death anniversary on January 30.
The ashes have been kept for public viewing at the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangralaya here to have a last audience and pay homage. Mani Bhawan served as Mahatma Gandhi's Mumbai residence where he stayed from 1917 to1934.
Meghshyam Ajgaonkar, Executive Secretary of the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangralaya, said that the ashes have been kept here for public viewing. On January 30, it will be immersed in the Arabian Sea by Gandhiji's granddaughter in the presence of Governor of Maharashtra at 9.30 am.
"The ashes have been kept for the visitors and people can see it till January 30. After that it will be immersed (in the Arabian Sea) at Chaupati in the presence of the Governor, the deputy chief minister and other dignitaries," said Meghshyam Ajgaonkar, executive secretary, Mani Bhavan Sangrahalaya.
A small steel urn containing Mahatma's ashes was sent to the Gandhi museum in Mumbai by a businessman last year whose father had preserved the remains with utmost respect.
Meanwhile, a lot of people have visited to see the remains of the apostle of non-violence and paid homage. Many visitors from abroad have offered floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.
"I am honoured to be here today. I have been here before but ashes were not here so this is unbelievably exciting and meaningful experience," said Nelsi Soberman, visitor from Chicago, USA.
All of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were meant to have been immersed in the river Ganges in 1948. But many of the urns were secreted away by his ardent lover and followers who wished to glorify him in death.
The ashes were sent to towns and villages across the country and also abroad for memorial services. But some of them were never returned.
In August 2006, Bharat Narayan, a Dubai-based businessman, handed the ashes which had been with his parents since 1948 into the care of Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangralaya.
Narayan's parents Madalasaben and Shriman Narayan are stated to have been Mahatma's close associates in the past.
Earlier, the proposal to put the ashes of Mahatma for public display on permanent basis failed to earn approval of some members of the Gandhi family. They wanted the ashes to be immersed as per Hindu tradition.
Hindus cremate their dead and scatter the ashes in river or the sea.
Meanwhile, the trustees are unsure whether similar urns containing Mahatma's ashes will surface in future. Thanks to the Dubai based businessman Bharat Narayan who came forward to entrust his precious legacy to them for safekeeping, though none of them was aware of its existence.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the apostle of non-violence. He was assassinated by a Hindu radical Nathu Ram Godse on January 30, 1948, while being on his way to attend a prayer meeting.