The house in Madurai where Gandhiji turned into the ‘fakir’

Mahatma took to wearing a loin cloth here after seeing the plight of poor peasants working in the fields in similar attire.

Published: 02nd October 2018 10:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd October 2018 02:05 PM   |  A+A-

Mahatma Gandhi during a visit to Madurai in 1921 (Photo | National Gandhi Museum).

By Online Desk

Winston Churchill in an angry moment called Mahatma Gandhi the ‘half-naked fakir’.

But there is a story behind the father of the nation turning into this fakir. The transformation occurred during a visit to Madurai in 1921.

Here, the Mahatma was invited by Sri Ramji Kalyanji of 175-A, West Masi Street to stay at his house on September 21 and he spent the day lost in thought. Why?

Allow Director of the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, A Annamalai, to explain.

"There were two issues worrying Gandhiji. He had been struck by the poverty he had seen around him as far back as during the Champaran satyagraha days. But this visit to South India made it all the more starker to him. The sight of poor peasants working in the fields in their loin clothes and their struggle for food and livelihood troubled him," Annamalai says.

In Pictures: When Tamil Nadu hosted the Mahatma

Another practical consideration might also have been at play.

"The production of khadi was at the beginning stage and the Mahatma wanted to set an example and reduce the need for producing more khadi by making people go in for more simpler clothing. On September 22, he made his decision and decided to abandon wearing the shirt and cap forever," the Director adds.

The Mahatma also took to wearing a loincloth here.

The building where Gandhiji made the decision might soon be declared a heritage site. Currently, the Khadi Craft runs from the ground floor, while the museum on the top floor opens only on October 2 or during VIP visits.


Follow The New Indian Express channel on WhatsApp


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp