Updated: April 12, 2016 6:25:41 am
The scorching heat did not dissuade students of Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan from rehearsing Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajans one last time, before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived to pay homage to the leader at Gandhi Smriti on Monday morning.
When Prince Williams and his wife, Catherine, requested them to sing Raghupati Raghav Rajaram, the students were elated that their practice paid off.
“The Duchess asked us what Gandhiji’s favourite song was and if we could sing it for them. We happily obliged. She was smiling as we sang the last line,” said Swar Goel, a Class VII student.
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Impressed by the song, the Duchess joined the children for a chat. “How many days have you been practicing these songs?” she asked them.
Himagi Indora of Class VI told her they had been practicing for three days. “We are happy that she liked it,” she said.
Before paying homage, the royal couple visited a section that had the life of Gandhi etched in murals. Guiding them through the section was Sailaja Gullapalli, a research associate at the Gandhi Smriti. “The Duchess was impressed by the life of Gandhi. I told them that the section depicted Gandhi’s life through murals in Sekhawati style,” he said.
The Duchess wanted to know more about the charkha, said Gullapalli. “She was interested in the spinning wheel and asked what it stood for. I told her that it symbolises dignity of labour,” he said.
As the couple prepared to leave, Mihi Lal — who spins clothes at the Smriti — gifted them a handmade angvastra made of pure cotton with a tricolour border. “I liked giving them the gift. It is an honour that my clothes are going places,” said the 75-year-old, who did not recognise the royals from England. “All I know is that they were foreigners and guests of the country,” said Lal.
Before the couple left, they wrote a few words in the visitor’s book. “To India’s visionary leaders,” signed off William and Catherine.
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