Happy Birthday dear Gandhiji
Today is Gandhiji’s 150th birthday.
Were he alive, he’d have been blowing out 150 candles on his cake.
But being vegetarian, I’m sure he never indulged in such practices. Especially since those were the days of regular cakes. Made with eggs and flour. Unlike eggless cakes that are de rigeur these days.
Stepping out of this 15-foot high mural painted by Eduardo Kobra, the Brazillian Artist, I wonder what he would have thought about Bombay today. A city that played an important part in his life.
Gandhiji and Bombay
As all Indian school children know, Gandhiji, or Mohandas (as he was known then) was born to Putlibai and her husband Karamchand in the Kathiawari port city of Porbunder.
But it was from Bombay that he set off to study Law in England in 1888.
And it was in Bombay that he landed in 1915 at the request of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a key leader of the Indian National Congress. Gokhale had heard of Gandhi’s fight against the British in South Africa and wanted him back in India to join the Freedom Movement.
So it was from this great city that he launched his career as a freedom fighter.
Whenever he was in Mumbai, he would organise speeches, rallies and meet with important people.
He stayed at Mani Bhavan, a single-storied bungalow in the genteel, leafy neighbourhood of Gamdevi. It was his headquarters from 1917-1934.
And it was from an open field at nearby Gowalia Tank that he launched the Quit India movement on August 9th,1942. Hundreds of people made bonfires of British goods at a spot now marked by a pillar.
But Bombay as he knew it, has now changed to :
Do you think he would recognise this city?
Mani Bhavan has now become a museum
The open field has been renamed August Kranti Maidan
As for the mural, it was, unfortunately, removed after part of the scaffolding on which it was mounted fell off and killed a hapless commuter.
Perhaps, it was Gandhiji’s way of enlisting the help of Vayu, the storm that was to hit Mumbai, mid-June this year,to move on.
Happy Birthday, dear Gandhiji!