London is all set to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 after a special talk planned by the Indian High Commission on "Values and Teachings of the Mahatma" marked the site of the grand hotel The Victoria, which no longer exists, to recognise Gandhi’s brief stay. The special talk was addressed by Shobhana Radhakrishna, the Chief Functionary of Gandhian Forum for Ethical Corporate Governance. A vegetarian food festival will be held in recognition of Mahatma Gandhi’s quest for vegetarian food in London. Besides the festival, the annual ceremonies will also take place at Gandhi statues at Tavistock Square and Parliament Square in London.
In the coming weeks, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge will also commemorate the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1888, Mahatma Gandhi arrived in London to study law and jurisprudence at University College. As he struggled to find vegetarian food in the city, he joined the London Vegetarian Society and was elected to its executive committee. In 1891, he left London for India and attempted to establish a law practice in erstwhile Bombay, which eventually failed.
"Mohandas Gandhi loved London. He arrived just prior to his 19th birthday, a nervous unsure young man from Porbandar, desperate to emulate what he thought the British style of living was," said Lord Meghnad Desai, a leading British Indian academic. "When he left three years later, he had grown into a confident young man, an English barrister as he styled himself," he said. Desai has recently set up a series of Mahatma Gandhi scholarships in his capacity as the Chair of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust.
In his formative years as a student in London, he met British people more than the Indian students present in the city. "The shy young man from Porbandar had come to a long distance in a short period. As he himself said that if he was not living in India, his choice would be to live in London," said Desai. As a law student, Mahatma Gandhi stayed at Baron's Court Road in West Kensington and it is marked with a Heritage Blue plaque. A commemorative plaque also to be found at Bromley-by-Bow in east London where he stayed during his visit for the Round Table Conference in 1931.
(With PTI Inputs)