Be it food, clothing or accessories, minimalism guided MK Gandhi’s choices in life. While his political philosophy of non-violent resistance continues to inspire protests even today, consumerists are applying his ideas to fashion, diet and lifestyle
Warp and weft: Gandhi is perhaps the only political figure to be associated with fabric. His ideas of the country’s independence were rooted in his vision of a self-reliant India. Khadi — hand-spun cloth — became a tool for empowerment in the hands of Gandhi, who used it to inject life into village economy and boycott foreign goods. The once inexpensive and humble khadi is now a wardrobe choice for many urban Indians. The rising popularity of slow and sustainable fashion has catapulted khadi into fashion limelight
Mood indigo: The natural indigo dye, too, has made a comeback in the Indian market. Gandhi’s connection with the dye goes back to 1918. Bihar’s Champaran district became the stage for Gandhi’s first-ever satyagraha, as impoverished indigo farmers gathered to protest an oppressive tax regime
Of vision and time: Gandhi’s personal belongings — footwear, glasses, watch, bowls — make headlines each time they go under the hammer. A pair of glasses, auctioned in Bristol last month, fetched £260,000. The item was left hanging from a letterbox at the office of East Bristol Auctions by a person who claimed to have got it from his uncle. This pocket watch was among a clutch of other Gandhi items that were auctioned in New York in 2009 for $1.8 million
Support system: The walking stick stands for various things. It is a sign of stability, helping us negotiate an uneven ground. It is a weapon of self-defence. The stick, in some societies, is also a marker of social status. When Gandhi picked up the stick, it became a symbol of power and self-assertion. During the salt satyagraha of 1930, his confident gait and lathi (a plain staff as opposed to the walking cane) inspired millions to join the civil disobedience movement. Even today, every illustration of the leader shows him in the company of his trusted lathi. In 2019, to mark Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, a group called Young Indians travelled to many parts of India with a replica of his lathi. In this image, foreign tourists in Madurai are seen with the lathi
Frugal does it: Gandhi didn’t experiment with just truth; he also had his own take on food — what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. His philosophy of ahimsa extended to food as well. Gandhi was also in favour of raw foods, with little or no starch. He was also against the use of ghee, butter, milk and other dairy products — a precursor to veganism, which is now an active lifestyle choice for many across continents and cultures. And his emphasis on plant-based, unprocessed and whole foods is now counted among the most effective ways to good health
Keep walking: One of Gandhi’s biggest contributions to political protests is the padayatra. He was 61 years old when he undertook the 388-km Dandi March in 1930. Memories of the historic march came to the fore when, in 2018 and 2019, farmers and tribespeople from different parts of Maharashtra
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