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.
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.
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.