Gandhi at 150

It’s been 150 years since Gandhi’s birth, initiating a circle that goes round today.

This year Gandhi Jayanti falls on the fourth day of Navratri, and so we’ve made his iconic ashram part of our annual display.

It’s nearly finished, this replica of his simple home on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Gujarat. We’ll embellish the red pots with rosemary to give the appearance of living bushes set upon the sand  from which our home-made trees spring up.

The charkha — the spinning wheel — is a photo glued to cardboard and set upon a mat cut from burlap, the structure itself cardboard measured to recreate the courtyard surrounded by rooms capped with a roof of peeled cardboard, giving the appearance of corrugation.

Gandhi-ji himself, outfitted to lead his salt march, was procured in Kolkata during a stroll not far from Chaplin Park.

These elements came together through a family effort, our hands contributing in equal part to recreate the site with careful attention in honor of this landmark anniversary.

Like the charkha, all of this is circular.

Gandhi’s belief in non-violent protest against unjust laws and government has its place in headlines today, not least in the Hong Kong protests.

His thoughts have forebear in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, himself inspired by Indian philosophy and writings. Gandhi gave us My life is my message, and that message inspired and shaped America’s Civil Rights movement through the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr.

When Dr. King visited India 70 years ago, he paid homage to Gandhi’s memory, saying ‘To other countries, I may go as a tourist but to India I come as a pilgrim… if this age is to survive, it must follow the way of love and nonviolence that [Gandhi] so nobly illustrated in his life.’

Happy Birthday, Gandhi.

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