The story of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination has been retold countless times. Religious fanatic Nathuram Godse waited for the father of modern India in the crowd gathered at Birla House (aka Gandhi Smriti) in New Delhi. Around 5:15 on the evening of January 30, 1948, the Mahatma walked from the building to the prayer grounds. Godse approached Gandhi reverently, bowed in respect then shot three times at close range with his Beretta semi-automatic pistol. Godse remained at the scene and surrendered to police.
Following strong disagreements between the British colonialists and the Indian independence leaders, Britain refused an offer to exchange Indian support of Britain’s war efforts in the second World War with Indian independence.
In response to the snub, Mohandas Gandhi initiated the “Quit India” movement in 1942 that called for complete withdrawal of the British government and military from South Asia. Gandhi and his fellow nationalist leaders were arrested and imprisoned until 1944.
The post-war British government began negotiations for Indian independence. They met with the recently formed Muslim League and leaders of the Indian independence movement, including Gandhi. After protracted, heated debates, on August 15, 1947, Great Britain agreed to form the independent nations of India and Pakistan.
A series of violent riots soon broke out across India between Muslims and Hindus. Gandhi, himself, was disturbed by the partition, because he had envisioned a unified India. As part of the actions taken to quell India’s religious conflicts, Gandhi visited troubled areas and underwent fasts. It was during one of those planned visits to New Delhi, that Gandhi met the end of his life.
High government officials gather at the Raj Ghat memorial to Mahatma Gandhi on the banks of the Yamuna River near the Raj Ghat Gate to the walled city. A large black marble platform marks the place of Gandhi’s cremation. Wreaths and flowers are presented at the memorial. Speeches are made and color guards from the Indian military branches display reverse arms and blow bugles to honor the martyrs.
Two minutes of silence take place across the nation in respect for Gandhi and other martyrs. All-religion prayer services are held and devotional singing or Bhajan are performed. Today’s commemoration is the first and largest of India’s annual Martyr’s Days.
On March 23rd, one is held on the death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru, important Indian historical leaders.
Then on July 13th, rememberances of the victims of the 1931 protests in Jammu and Kashmir take place.
Orissa state observes the death anniversary of the “Lion of Punjab” Lala Lajpat Rai, another independence leader, on November 17th.
Finally, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh observes the birthday of queen Rani Lakshmibai on November 19th. This Martyr’s Day honors the freedom fighters of the Rebellion of 1857 of which she was one leader.
The main idea of Martyr’s Days is the rememberance of people who have worked for peace, unity, welfare, and progress in India.
The Blue Jay of Happiness has this quote from the Mahatma for today: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”