The final 144 days of Mahatma Gandhi, spent at the capital’s Birla House, will be brought alive in the Delhi government’s Republic Day tableau, which will make a comeback at Rajpath after a year’s gap.
The theme of the tableau will be ‘Gandhi Smriti’, formerly known as Birla House, where the Mahatma was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
He was on his way to a customary evening prayer session when the assassin, Nathuram Godse, fired three bullets at him.
“This year’s Republic Day theme is celebrating 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. We have chosen our theme in keeping with that. Gandhi spent a considerable amount of time in Delhi, so we wanted to showcase that. Our annual calender also commemorated Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told The Indian Express.
The tableau is being designed by the government’s tourism department. In 2017, the last time when Delhi’s tableau was a part of the parade, the reforms in the education sector undertaken by the AAP government were showcased.
Before that, Delhi was a part of the celebrations in 2013, when the Sheila Dikshit Congress government was in power. Then, the city’s diversity in terms of presence of communities from across the country was showcased.
“In total, Gandhi spent 720 days in the city between 1915 and 1948. Any commemoration of the Mahatma will be incomplete without recalling the time he spent in Delhi. Moreover, he laid down his life in the national capital. When it comes to showcasing Gandhi to the world, in front of world leaders, diplomats, Gandhi Smriti is essential,” said a senior government official.
This year, on January 26, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the Chief Guest.
The Gandhi Smriti, which is maintained by the Ministry of Culture, has a museum comprising a large collection of rare photographs, a few personal belongings and various other information relating to the Mahatma. There are footsteps that mark his last journey, around 170 yards, on the lawns.
In a letter to a friend, Gandhi had said that his main objective in staying in Delhi was to “give the Muslims whatever comfort I can. That (objective) was served better by my staying at Birla House. Muslim friends felt safer in coming here than in the poor quarters of Delhi.”
The other major landmarks in the city associated with the Mahatma include Valmiki Basti, Birla Temple, Harijan Sevan Sangh, Tibbia College, St Stephen’s College and Mehrauli Dargah.