Shining a light on Gandhi

On Sunday night, thousands of Hindu devotees used lit oil lamps to form a portrait of Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary, in a Hindu ritual known as Maha Aarti. The event took place near Gandhinagar, in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Gandhi's birthday falls on Oct 2, which India observes as a major national holiday called Gandhi Jayanti. It is typically marked with a prayer for peace, ceremonies and events throughout the country.

The United Nations has also declared Oct 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence to honour the ideal that Gandhi fought for throughout his life.

Gandhi, who was born in 1869, played a key role in India's fight for independence. He was assassinated on Jan 30, 1948, just a few months after he led India to freedom from British rule through a non-violent struggle.

Last Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to the "father of the nation" at the Gandhi memorial in New Delhi.

India also celebrated the anniversary by organising cleanliness drives to honour his message of cleanliness, as well as holding film screenings on Gandhi and his principles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2019, with the headline 'Shining a light on Gandhi'. Print Edition | Subscribe