The exhibition will run until January 26, which is India's Republic Day, honouring the coming into effect of the Constitution of India on that date in 1950, following the overthrow of the British Raj in August 1947. This year, 2019, sees Indians celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Porbandar on October 2, 1869. Each year October 2 is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.

In the Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre exhibition can be seen men's and women's apparel, wraps, a woollen stole, silk stole, handkerchief, Nehru cap and other items made from the hand-spun and hand-woven natural fibre cloth that has become a symbol of Indian national identity by providing self-reliance for rural people.

Samples of several silks, cottons, muslins and polywool adorn the walls, as do many black-and-white photos of the revered "great soul" (Mahatma): aged 7 years in 1876, in Johannesburg in 1906, Karachi in 1916, spinning, with his wife and fellow activist Kasturba, visiting prisoners, fasting, his hut, in Marseilles in 1931, on a peace mission, with first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, etcetera.

Gandhi's words can be read in the exhibition: "The spinning wheel represents for me the hope of the masses. The masses lost their freedom, such as it was, with the loss of the charkha. The charkha supplemented the agriculture of the villages and gave it dignity." And: "If we have the 'khadi spirit' in us, we would surround ourselves with simplicity in every walk of life. The 'khadi spirit' means illimitable patience."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quoted: "Khadi for nation, khadi for fashion, khadi for transformation." The Khadi and Village Industries Commission, part of the Indian Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, is likewise celebrating 150 years of Gandhi, and offers up: "We spin employment and weave prosperity in India."

The exhibition includes the interesting fact that Indian law says khadi is the only material allowed to be used for the national flag, otherwise the penalty is up to three years imprisonment and a fine.

The opening of the exhibition was part of the Indian Embassy's contribution to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, or Non-Resident Indian Day, which is celebrated on 9 January each year to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as it was on this day in 1915 that Gandhi returned to his home country from South Africa, led India's freedom struggle and changed the country for ever. He went on to be acknowledged as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known, but fell victim to a political assassination in January 1948.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is held under the auspices of India's Ministry of External Affairs, and the Budapest celebration heard comments from Ambassador to Hungary Kumar Tuhin, Christian missionary Father Benvin Sebastian on his contribution to social service in Hungary, Indologist Katalin Aklan on the importance of Gandhian values and khadi in the modern day, and Sanjay Gupta, the CEO of one of the largest organisational development companies in Hungary, the Grow Group, who spoke on the role of the Indian diaspora in Hungary.

Attendees heard that there are an almost 31 million Indians outside India and they often hold a very strong profile, excelling in top positions in politics, business, art, cinema, sport and other fields. Every one of them is an ambassador for their country, the gathering was told.

# Indian Ambassador to Hungary Kumar Tuhin (left) and Christian missionary Father Benvin Sebastian

The director of the Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre, Tanuja Shankar, said: "Today we bow our heads to this great man Mahatma Gandhi who selflessly worked towards non-violence, peace, tolerance and courage, and who left an indelible mark on the entire globe, on young and old alike, and who has become a way of living and thought for generations to come."

The guests were entertained by Kathak dancer Sonali Roy, a trio comprising Kavya Francis on violin, Nicole Li on synth and Pandit Rajesh Gangani on tabla, and Bosnia Herzegovina singer Selma Muhedinovic-Silajdzic.

All those present were reminded of Gandhi's saying: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."


Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Centre
Búzavirág utca 14
District II, Budapest
Tel.: (36-1) 325-7742
E-mail: diricc.budapest@mea.gov.in
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICCBudapestHungary


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