On In History & Religion

When And Why Did Mahatma Gandhi Decide To Wear A Dhoti

Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, is one of the most inspiring freedom fighters the world has ever seen. He aroused the feeling of freedom in people's hearts at a time when no one even thought of it. His values are an inspiration to us even today.So what comes to your mind when you hear someone talk about Mahatma Gandhi?Well,  I imagine an old man with an innocent smile, wearing a dhoti and reading a newspaper next to his charkha. But have you ever wondered that despite being an educated lawyer, he decided to wear dhoti?There are two tales around this.   

Tale 1: It all started when he returned from South Africa

According to Press Information Bureau, when Mahatma Gandhi discovered the poor situation of the people of the country, he took it upon himself to represent their struggles to the world, and also help them lead a better life.

"All the alterations I have made in my course of life have been affected by momentous occasions, and they have been made after such a deep deliberation that I have hardly had to regret them," Mahatma Gandhi had said.

He wanted to promote Khadi

It is believed that during his meetings in South Africa, Gandhi wore a three-piece suit, and in London he was often seen dressed in his lawyer outfit. But when he came to India, he adopted his native Gujarati clothes. He even shaved his head and pledged to live like this to promote Khadi. 

Mahatma Gandhi took the final plunge in Madurai

Gandhi in his weekly publication Navjivan had described the incident as, "On the way (from Madras – now Chennai - to Madurai by train) I saw in our compartment crowds that were wholly unconcerned with what had happened. Almost without exception they were bedecked in foreign fineries. I entered into conversation with some of them and pleaded for Khadi. They shook their heads as they said, 'We are too poor to buy Khadi and it is so dear.' I realised the substratum of truth behind the remark. I had my vest, cap and full dhoti on. When these uttered only partial truth, the millions of compulsorily naked men, save for their langoti four inches wide and nearly as many feet long, gave through their limbs the naked truth. What effective answer could I give them, if it was not to divest myself of every inch of clothing I decently could and thus to a still greater extent bring my­self in line with ill-clad masses? And this I did the very next morning after the Madura meeting."

September 22, 1921

And so on September 22 1921, Mahatma Gandhi finally gave up wearing pant and shirt.

"Let there be no prudery about dress. India has never insisted on full covering of the body for the males as a test of culture," he had said during his speech in Chennai (then Madras).

When Gandhi met British prime minister Winston Churchill after a decade

According to Scroll.in, Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met Gandhi a decade after he discarded stitched clothes and said, "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king-emperor."

Gandhi did not want anyone else to follow his style

Navajivan quotes Gandhi, "I do not want either my co-workers or readers to adopt the loincloth. But I do wish that they should thoroughly realize the meaning of the boycott of foreign cloth and put forth their best effort to get it boycotted, and to get khadi manufactured. I do wish that they may understand that swadeshi means everything."People have also come up with another theory on why Gandhi decided to discard stitched clothes.

Tale 2: These 3 women were responsible for his change of style

According to a lifestyle website Boldsky, when Gandhi was leading the Champaran movement, he decided to meet the commissioner of Muzaffarpur. The commissioner asked Gandhi to stop the movement and quit helping the peasants. Gandhi, however, did not quit.

Three women had only one saree in total

There were three women who witnessed the interaction between the commissioner and Gandhi. They were asked to narrate the same in front of prosecution which they denied as they only had one saree in total.  

Later what they did, it leave Mahatma Gandhi surprised

However, what they did next left Gandhi shocked. The ladies took turns to come to the court to give their statement wearing that one saree. According to the theory, it was after this that Mahatma Gandhi took the decision of wearing a dhoti.That's all. I hope you liked the story. If you have an interesting story to share, do write to me at guneet@wittyfeed.com