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Mahatma: The Smile on the Note…celebrating 150 years of Gandhi

As I open a folded brown 10 Rupee note, my eyes fall on the ever-smiling striking photo of Mahatma Gandhi. The twinkle in his eyes is contagious! Smiling back, I ponder and think as to what is so special about Mahatma Gandhi that The Reserve Bank of India decided to issue currency notes with his portrait since October 1996? Mind you, the photo is no caricature but an actual snap of his clicked in 1946. Was it because from so many illustrious freedom fighters no other personality could better represent the ideology, spirit of our country than Mahatma Gandhi? This year India, on 2nd October 2019, we celebrate 150 years Gandhi…

In spite of being timid and shy and scared of darkness and ghosts as a child, Mahatma Gandhi later on took on the baton to lead India to freedom from British Rule. With a strong will power and stubborn to a fault, Bapu was highly determined and did not allow setbacks to deter him from his struggles. When in London and South Africa Mahatma Gandhi loved to dress up in fashionable clothes but later on seeing the pitiable condition and attire of poor people in India he adopted and adapted to wearing a simple dhoti/loincloth and shawl. Going to jail many a time with his followers and steadfastly fasting 17 times during India’s freedom movement, a weapon he choose as part of his philosophy of Ahimsa. 

Below are some books that highlight the life of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘The Father of the Nation’. The subject matter may be the same but each book touches Bapu’s life differently in terms creativity and content. Perfect they are for imbibing his great values, for projects, enacting skits and storytelling. Indeed, no better way to celebrate 150 years of Gandhi with your children! 

Gandhiji’s Gems written and illustrated by Kumkum Somani, Published by Maneck Daver, 2012 for 9 +            

Read for free on kindle unlimited

This is a set of 2 books and 9 stories. The stories are fiction but they are set in actual historical background during India’s struggle for freedom from the British Empire. Adventurous, imaginative and vivid in descriptive narrations all of them are emotional and enthralling. Moreover, they are beautifully illustrated and make history come alive. Gandhiji makes an appearance in most of the stories. Children and adults will love reading them. A little peek- Will Juhi be able to sacrifice her English blue-eyed doll for the Swadeshi Movement? After reading the Brown Diary would Anwar’s feelings of hate change to love? 

Great Lives: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi by Aditi De and Art by Pooja Pottenkulam, Published by Scholastic, 2015 for 8+                         

Gandhiji’s Biography is presented through lively comics and text. The reader will love knowing about the legendary Bapu’s likes and dislikes, snippets and anecdotes from his life. The art work in this book is truly notable.

My Gandhi Story by Rajesh C. Vangad, Nina Sabnis , Ankit Chadha, Tulika Publication, 8+                       

This book is also available in Gujarati, have a look on amazon.

This book is a collaboration between a Warli artist, an animator and a storyteller. Here we find a narrator, an interviewer and Gandhiji as the interviewee. Beautiful Warli art is done on each page depicting Mahatma Gandhi’s life. The book introduces us to his accomplished life.

Picture Gandhi by Sandhya Rao, Tulika Publications, 2007 for 8+          

This book follows Gandhiji’s life chronologically right from his birth to education and his struggle for Independence from the British. It is interspersed with real black and white photograph prints and using bubbles Gandhiji is shown to himself answer questions in first person. 

My Gandhi Scrapbook by Sandhya Rao, Tulika Publishers 2007, for all ages 

A lovely scrapbook that helps you make Gandhi truly your own!

A captivating book on a remarkable Gandhiji. The book is filled with fascinating facts, anecdotes and small snippets of valuable information on his hobbies and interests. It allows the reader to connect with puzzles and activities. My Gandhi scrapbook is a collector’s item to be kept.

My Story of My Experiments with Truth written by Mahatma Gandhi, for adults                                   

He wrote his autobiography when in Yerwada jail in Pune in 1932 in Gujarati which was later on translated in English by Mahadev Desai. It was a simple and spontaneous book about his early life, his contribution to the struggle for Independence, moral and spiritual journey rather than anything political.           

                                                                                                                                                                    150 Years of Gandhi……visiting the haven….

If ever in Mumbai do visit the Mani Bhavan Museum, located on the quiet and serene Laburnum Road, Gamdevi. A sense of peaceful tranquility prevails in the simple two-storied building. It functions as a Reference library and a museum, with an entire section depicting Mahatma Gandhi’s life, through hand- made doll sized figures and puppets, looking very real and lively. There is also a picture gallery, and you will see the room where Bapu spent 17 years of his life, the Charkha he used to weave cotton. 

150 Years of Gandhi is an important occasion. It is a milestone that leads us to question what we have really learnt and imbibed from an icon who was respected not only in India but all over the world. His thoughts continue to inspire even today. Maybe an apt way to mark this occasion with our children is to let them delve into the stories and ideas contained in these books that will bring him alive in a context that they can relate to. 

Poyani Mehta

Poyani Mehta is a former School Librarian, freelance storyteller, and storyteller with the Secret Passages Storytelling Circle. She writes travelogues and articles on various topics. She is a bibliophile, rescues injured birds, and enjoys spending quality time with her young daughter and Shanti her indie pariah dog.