Celebrating a hundred years of Gandhi donning the loincloth

By P. Samuel Jonathan

A hundred years ago, on September 22, 1921, Mahatma Gandhi took the decision of shedding his suit and tie and donning a loincloth, which remained his attire till his death. Gandhi’s decision was inspired by his desire to completely boycott British goods and to popularise the idea of ‘swadeshi’ by making khadi more accessible to the poor.

Forum For Better Bapatla, announcing its plans to celebrate the centenary of the Mahatma’s momentous decision this month, released a pamphlet on Wednesday. Agricultural College Associate Dean Dr. G. Ramachandra Rao, Forum secretary P.C. Sai Babu, and Agricultural College Farm Superintendent Pratibha Sri attended the meeting.

The forum members explained the events leading up to Gandhi’s decision to don the loincloth. While travelling by train from Chennai to Madurai, Gandhi saw local people wearing mostly foreign clothes. After talking to them, he realised that the people could not afford to buy khadi, which is why they were unwilling to burn their western attire. This inspired Gandhi to popularise khadi by making the loincloth his permanent attire in order to boycott British goods and make efforts to get khadi widely manufactured in India so that it became more accessible to the poor, and to popularise the idea that ‘swadeshi’ is everything.

On September 22, 1921, at 251 A West Masi Street in Madurai — the house of one of his followers — Gandhi donned the khadi loincloth and went with his followers to address a public meeting. On the way, he stopped at Kamarajar Salai to accept the greetings of the public. This place is where he first made his public appearance in a loincloth, and is referred to as ‘Gandhi Pottal’ now.

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