Indians, foreigners alike salute Gandhi

New Delhi: Insisting that his teachings remained relevant today, some 300 Indians and foreigners gathered here Monday to mourn the death of Mahatma Gandhi at the very spot he was assassinated 64 years ago.

The small but visibly committed group included a sprinkling of foreigners, particularly from the US and France, a few from neighbouring states and mainly from those living in the vicinity of Birla House, which the Father of the Nation had made his home from Sep 9, 1947 to Jan 30, 1948.

Birla House is now known as Gandhi Smriti.

The sombre two-hour event saw slum kids render religious songs. There were also inter-faith prayers as well as Bhakti Sangeet.

“Gandhiji taught us to be sincere and hardworking. The so-called leaders around us, barring a few, have forgotten his teachings,” retired lecturer Ram Niwas Diskhit, 78, of a village in Badayun in Uttar Pradesh said.

French national Aleron Lisle agreed, saying Gandhi held relevance in today’s world.

“I am still learning about Gandhi and have read his autobiography. I can safely say that his teachings have the power to change the world, provided we have the right attitude,” the 34-year-old businesswoman said.

She said she had set up a Gandhian group in Paris which meets every month to preach non-violence “in our neighbourhood”.
Michael Mueller, 49, from Wisconsin in the US promotes Gandhi’s teachings in around 70 schools in his city.

“I am also a member of the Gandhi Peace Foundation and have been running a programme since 2004 for school kids based on Gandhism,” Mueller said.

Mueller along with his colleagues and 15-year-old daughter is on a ‘Gandhi Pilgrimage’ to India. He has visited the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat and Rajghat in the capital.

According to his colleague Nancy Stanford Blair, a professor in Wisconsin, there is growing interest about Mahatma Gandhi.

“There is a growing awakening that old methods are successful in the long run to sustain a society successfully. I guess this is the reason behind the number of students eager to learn about Gandhi,” Blair said.

Mahatma Gandhi, who led Indian independence struggle, was shot dead by Nathuram Godse as he walked towards a prayer meeting. Gandhi was 78 years old when he collapsed, muttering “Hey Ram!”

Gandhi Smriti hosts a Martyr’s Column at the spot he was killed. The words “Hey Ram” and the date and time of his death are inscribed on its four pillars.