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57. Little Heroines in India
During his "begging tours" in the cause of Harijan uplift, Gandhiji used to ask even little girls, who came to garland him or to make presents to him, to part with the jewellery they had on their person. He wanted the little ones not only to learn to do without costly and wasteful aids to beauty but also to pass through the crucible of self- sacrifice so that they might turn out in later life to be real heroines of whom their country might be proud.
Thus, at Bhopal when a girl came to put flowers into his hands he asked her, "Why don't you present your ring to the Harijan fund?" Saying that she would give the ring to him, the girl tried to remove it from her finger. Gandhiji then told her that her parents might question her if she parted with the ring, but the girl persisted in her decision to present it to him. He still pressed her to keep the ring to herself, but this caused her so great disappointment that Gandhiji felt the necessity of accepting the present. The ring, however, could not be removed from the finger easily and water had to be fetched and applied to the finger before it could be taken off. The girl was extremely pleased when at last the ring was removed and she was able to make a gift of it to Gandhiji.
At Vizag a small girl came to put a garland of Khadi yarn round his neck. He took the opportunity to catch hold of her hand and ask for the bangles she was wearing. When she looked in the direction of her father for permission, the latter gladly gave it and she too was happy to make the sacrifice. Her example was followed by another little girl of eight who came up to him and holding out her hand asked him to remove her bangle too.