Friday, 10 September 2010

Gandhi Smriti - Gandhi Remembrance

The path Gandhi walked from Birla house
in the moments before his assasination

The spot where Mahatma Gandhi was shot

In the winter of 1947-48 the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had come to Delhi in an attempt to stop communal violence in the capital of newly independent India. It was a cause he would pay for with his life. On 30 January 1948 he was assassinated by a religious fanatic just after he gone out to the garden of the house in which he was staying at the time. It fell upon Gandhi's close friend and ally Jawaharlal Nehru to inform the nation of the tragic event via a radio address. He did so with the words:

Friends and Comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the Father of the Nation, is no more.

Today, the property in which Gandhi met his fate, stands as a museum and memorial to his life and legacy. It has been renamed from it's original, Birla House, to "Gandhi Smriti" meaning "Gandhi Remembrance". It is a sombre place to visit for anyone even remotely interested in Gandhi and his doctrine of non-violence, which he pursued with such exceptional courage into martyrdom. No place conveys that better than where it all took place.

The whole museum can be roughly divided into three parts. The first - and for me most important part - is the garden in which the actual assassination took place.  A string of stone footsteps show the path, which Gandhi took up to the point where he was killed. A small, unimposing monument marks the spot.

The second part of the museum, which is indoors on the ground floor, is dedicated to telling the story of Gandhi's life. Highlights include the glasses he wore when he was shot and other of his (very few) personal artifacts.

The third part is a curious multimedia section on the first floor, which for the most part look more like a modern art museum than a place dedicated to the memory of Gandhi. It is actually not bad or uninteresting, but just seems strangely misplaced.

The actual specs Gandhi wore

Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturbi

From the multimedia part of the museum: A modern interpretation of the three wise, Japanese monkeys embodying the very Gandhian principle of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil"

At places Gandhi Smriti
  looks like an art museum
More multimedia, here with a wooden motif of Gandhi

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