Gandhiji’s House And Dress Metamorphosis
B. Someswar Rao
As a cub reporter who became a journalist just before becoming a major, I was very much surprised that before Gandhiji was called a Mahatma (great soul) there was another Mahatma and that too in my own city, Many may not know this story and also how the turban-wearing vaishya from Gujarat town of Porbandar became what Churchill called the “half-naked fakir parleying with the representatives of Kings”.
So I am repeating the story which my mentor in journalism, Amitabh Bacchan’s father-in-law T.C.Bhaduri (star Jaya Bhaduri’s father) published.
On Mahatma Gandhi I wrote two articles as a 16 yr old: The House Where Gandhi Stayed and The Metamorphosis of The Gandhian Garb. That was more than 64 years ago.
Just as many do not know that the C in my celebrity mentor’s name stood for Coomar (instead of Kumar) many may not have heard of Mahatma Bhagwandin and.. When I interviewed him he told me that Gandhiji was asked by an anonymous freedom fighter in Nagpur how much cloth was needed to make his dress.
Gandhi then wore a Kathiawadi dress of a legging with a heavily plaited ‘shirt’ and a turban. When he came to India with a Barrister degree from London where he wore a coat and trousers and during legal practice in South Africa he wore a lawyer’s dress,. He switched back to the Indian dress.So the Gandhian garb changed three times since his adolescent days.
Questioned about his dress Gandhi realised that the poor in India could not afford his costly clothing. So it was in Nagpur that from a turbaned Kathiawadi he changed into the half- naked fakir the world knows. And he shifted to an Ashram built at Sewagram near Wardha by the millionaires of that town – the Bajaj family.
This was the metamorphosis I wrote about. The house where Gandhi stayed was a Marwari students’ hostel which Brijlal Biyañi who was later Finance Minister at Bombay got vacated so Gandhi could come early for the Congress session that passed the famed non-cooperation resolution. When I stayed there with my friend Karnik it was owned by Dr. P B Bave.
That was how Gandhian garb and ghar (house) changed.