html> Fashion-Setter | Bahuroopee Gandhi | Complete Book Online
You are here:
In South Africa, Gandhi began to wear sandals with trousers. At that time it was unusual. He preferred sandals to smart shoes because during summer they kept the feet cool and during winter they could as well be worn with socks. He himself made the sandals. General smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, heard that these hand -made sandals were strong yet comfortable and wanted to use a pair. Gandhi got a pair made with special care and presented it to him.
Gandhi had a way of doing things in a manner different from the accepted traditional form. Some of the fashions set by him were followed by others, some lapsed due to in acceptance.
When he first attended a Congress session,  he was astonished to see that separate Kitchens were set up not merely for different castes, but for catering to the different tastes, but for catering to the different tastes of the delegates and volunteers. He attached importance to the small things of life and felt that there could be no swaraj till people gave up this separatist mentality and developed a sense of oneness. He wanted to stop this wastage of money, time and labour by simplifying food habits. He made experiments on diet. In his ashrams, simple spicelss vegetarian food was cooked in a common kitchen. Muslims, Hindus, parsis and Christians shared the same vegetarian food, seated in a common dining hall.
Gandhi stressed the food value of raw salads, fruits, nuts, boiled vegetables, hand pounded rice and hand ground wheat flour. He explained how fresh gur or honey contained more vitamins than refined white sugar and thus tried to train people to appreciate the substance more than the look of a thing.
In the Faizpur Congress, delegates and visitors were for the first time served unpolished rice and whole meal bread. to hold the annual gathering of the Congress in a village was Gandhi's idea. Previously, for 50 years, highly educated group of leaders and intelligentsia formed the bulk of the audience, Congress sessions were held in big cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. Gandhi changed it into a people's Congress and gave it a mass character. Clad in simple Indian style of dress, he addressed the audience in Hindi.
He planned out the details of the Tilak Nagar at Faizpur. it was built by village artisans out of materials easily available in a village. Artist Nandalal Bose gave concrete shape to Gandhi's dream. The walls and the roof of the tents were made of bamboo. Colored bamboos made the archway which was decorated with upturned wicker baskets. The National flag flying aloft the gate was Gandhi's own creation. A few years earlier he had given the flag the final shape. It was to be three coloured saffron, white and green arranged horizontally. The white was to contain, in the centre, a dark blue imprint of the spinning wheel that symbolized non-violence and the common man in India.
To Gandhi goes the credit of evolving our simple yet dignified national dress. When he led the epic march in south Africa, hundreds of miners and indentured labourers, mostly South Indians, joined the struggle. All were tortured, many were jailed, some died. In sympathy with them and for identifying himself with them, Gandhi suddenly decided to don a kurta and a dhoti worn in a lungi fashion. He replaced the walking stick with a lathi and carried a satchel.
Gandhi developed satyagraha non-violent non-cooperation and mass civil disobedience as a powerful weapon to meet the organised violence of a mighty authority. He cited the ancient examples of Prahlad and Bibhisan as staunch non-co-operators with evil and brute force. He claimed no originally in doing so. But his bold effort to apply that technique of resistance to evil on amass scale and to impress it in the political field was original. Its success, too, was striking. A foreign journalist your faith in truth and non-violence?"  Gandhi replied : " No, I swear by non-violence and truth together standing for the highest order of courage before which the atom bomb is of no effect. Non-violence is the only thing that the atom bomb cannot destroy."  Gandhi had contributed more than anyone else to mobilise the strength of the great mass of humanity in India.
Under his leadership, India gained independence through non-violence. He wanted India to remain the hope of all t exploited races of the earth, whether in Asia, America of Africa : " struggle for the emancipation of all the oppressed races against superior might." After India's independence, many colonies gained freedom without blood-shed. The movement for securing human rights is spreading successfully among the American Negroes.
Along with his experiments in bringing a change of heart in an adversary, Gandhi's dress underwent a significant change. After his return to india from South Africa, Gandhi took to wearing a dhoti, kurta, long coat and huge Khathiawadi turban. He soon found that dress unsuitable for a warm climate. Moreover, yards of cloth were wasted on that turban. He then changed over to wearing a dhoti, kurta and cap. So called genteel folk were shocked to see him attended important meetings and public gatherings in that dress. When Gandhi learnt to spin and weave, his entire dress was made of khadi. The Gandhi cap was something very akin to a kashmiri cap without its embroidery. Gandhi insisted on its being white. People complained that the white cap got easily soiled. Gandhi argued: " I choose the white cap for maintaining high standard of cleanliness. This thin cap is easily washable and does colour get equally dirty but conceal the dirt." Khadi dhoti or pyjama, kurta and Gandhi cap became popular and were accepted as the national dress..
Many Biharis, Mavaris and Gujaratis discarded their elaborate turbans for Gandhi cap and many Muslims their fez. Bengalese and South Indians, normally not used to ahead gear, began to wear it. During the swadeshi days the Gandhi cap worked as red rag to john bull. Volunteers wearing this white cap were cruelly handled by the police and their caps were forcibly removed. Schoolboys were punished for sporting it. Gandhi himself wore it for a short time. His final change in dress ended in wearing a khadi loin cloth, wrap and chappal. He believed a leader should be a true representative of his people. He moved in Europe and England and even met the Emperor of India in that dress. When foreign dignitaries and diplomats , renowned poets and authors wanted to meet him, he invited them to his ashram. Once a distinguished visitor from England was brought to his ashram from the railway station in a bullock cart. These visitors squatted on the floor of Gandhi, the man of the masses. They ate the ashram food. This sage of Sevagram was a good host, very considerate to the needs of his guests but never felt ashamed in extending a rustic's hospitality to sophisticated westerners. He did not think that the dignity of a nation or state, especially of a poor country, could be maintained by an exhibition of pomp. On the contrary, this display of false prestige, sham show and concealment of poverty hurt him. From his village abode Gandhi often had to run to Delhi and Simla, Bombay and Calcutta to hold important discussions with the Viceroy, Governors, British diplomats and foreign dignitaries. To speed his ideas and to keep in touch with his countrymen, he more than once traveled all over India, but never boarded a plane. He traveled third. Before independence, other leaders followed his examples. He wanted to change the whole system of administration: In democracy, a kisan should be the ruler. A kisan Prime Minister would not ask for a palace to live in. he would live in a mud hut, sleep under the sky and work on land whenever he is free."
Gandhi knew how persons bred and brought up in sophisticated surroundings lacked the courage to adapt these bold ideas. He wanted to start right from the beginning by educating children in a different way. He gave enough thought to the experimental methods of education tried by some noted educationists and suggested a basic method of training the minds of the youngsters. He called it Nayee Talim. It gave less importance to literary training. Eradication of ignorance, not only of illiteracy was his aim. By teaching through crafts, he hoped to develop the personality of young pupils and to create self-confidence in them. He wanted to initiate in them tolerance for all religions, love for all races and respect for all work.
In mass prayer meetings, he tried to introduce a prayer culled from different religions of the world.
Gandhi untiringly spoke of his ideas in hundreds of public meetings and wrote numerous articles in his journals. In the many weeklies he edited successfully, he left out all advertisements which fetched good revenue. He spurned money but loathed wastage in any form. He once advised the organisers of meetings to avoid altogether expenses on decoration: " Flowers may be avoided altogether and yarn garland may be presented. yarn must not be damaged by being tied in knots. flags and buntings, out of waste khaddar, can be used. Money can be saved by avoiding the printing of addresses. The best calligraphists can write out the address on simple handmade paper and the paper can be nicely sewn on a piece of khaddar or boys and girls can embroider the letter on a piece of khaddar."
His ideas about interior with carpets, with did not like a room stuffed with carpets, crowded with furniture and curio collection. Window curtains had no fascination for him. Once he was the guest of a rich South Indian merchant. He disliked the hotchpotch collection of decorative pieces and said; " I have felt oppressed with the excessive furniture. There is a in the midst of it hardly any room to breathe in. Some of your pictures are hideous. If you give me a contract for furnishing all the palaces in Chetti Nad, I should give you the more comfort and fresh air and secure a certificate from the best artists in India that I had furnished your houses in the most artistic manner." This claim of Gandhi was justified by Nandalal Bose's appreciation of Gandhi's hut at sevagram: " the floor and walls were plastered with cow-dung. There was no picture, no photograph, figure or statue in the room. A mat was spread in the corner with folded Khaddar sheet and a cushion for sitting. On one side of the packing-case covered with Khaddar, to serve as a writing desk, was a small polished lota of bell metal covered with an iron sheet shaped like a pipal leaf. The room had an atmosphere of cleanliness, tidiness and quite beauty. He was sitting in the room sparsely clad in apiece of khaddar cloth worn tightly round the waist. A pleasant smile was always playing on his lips. He appeared to me like a sword of fine temper, kept unsheathed, having all the attributes of the sword save that of himsa."