August 25, 2012 5:07:44 am
The much-acclaimed Gandhi Katha or Story of Gandhi,a five-day discourse on Mahatma Gandhi started by veteran Gandhian Narayan Desai in 2004,will end in January when he completes his 108th katha,a number considered holy by Hindus and Buddhists.
Gujarat Vidyapith,a university founded in 1920 by Mohandas K Gandhi in Ahmedabad,is gearing up to make the 108th katha a grand one. Desai,the son of Gandhis personal secretary Mahadev Desai and who remembered a boyhood spent with the leader of the Indian independence movement,is also the universitys Chancellor. Desai has also written a biography on Gandhi entitled Maru Jivan Ej Mari Vani (My Life is My Message),considered to be an authenticated book on him.
It was in 2004 that Desai began the katha – a narrative of Gandhis life – from the Gujarat Vidyapith campus. He has travelled across the world with his tales,including over a dozen Indian states including Gujarat,Maharashtra,Odisha,Kerala and New Delhi among others and countries such as England,the USA,Canada etc.
So far,Desai has performed 104 kathas. The next katha is scheduled in Madurai,Tamil Nadu,for the first time. It will be followed by another round of Gandhian discourse in New Delhi at Gandhi Smriti and at Darshan Samiti,at the Old Birla house,where Gandhi breathed his last. The Prime Minister is the chairman of its governing body. The 107th katha will be held at Vadodara Central Jail.
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The last katha will be held at Sadra,a village in Gandhinagar district where Mahadev Desai College of Social Work is located and which is run by Gujarat Vidyapith. The village panchayat and neighbouring villagers have also come forward to help plan and organise the 108th katha.
According to Sudarshan Iyenger,Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith,the university has asked all other universities and colleges in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad to send their students for the programme. He expects not less than 500 students to participate in the five-day katha,which will be held between January 26 and January 30.
This is a privilege for all of us that the Gandhi Katha that began at Vidyapith is ending at a college run by Vidyapith itself. It was started to spread the message of Mahatma Gandhi through our traditional method of rending education orally from one generation to another which is more effective than books. People still dont read that much and therefore the rendition of Gandhi Katha became a big success, said Iyenger.
According to Tushar Gandhi,the great grandson of Mahtma Gandhi,Desais Gandhi Katha has proved an admirable work,with his presentation of live stories of Bapu in the present context which made them more relevant. Through his narratives Desai drew parallels of Gandhis times and todays time which makes his endeavour unique.
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