Mahatma Gandhi, his change of attire and his link with Madurai city

Gandhiji with his new attire, loin cloth,

Gandhiji with his loin

''All the alterations I have made in my course of life have been effected by momentous occasions; and they have been made after such a deep deliberation that I have hardly had to regret them. And I did them, as I could not help doing them. Such a radical alteration - in my dress, - I effected in Madura.”
                                                      ............         M. K. Gandhi

After his return from S. Africa to India, Gandhiji plunged into Freedom struggle, and his political mentor was Gokhale  (May 1866 – February 1915), a senior leader of  the  Indian  National Congress and  founder of  the  Servants of  India Society. Gokhale was a great patriot and  freedom  fighter from Maharashtra.  Upon his advice,  in order to understand the political mood and  living conditions of the common people, Gandhiji undertook a trip across India,covering vast areas.  His trip to the south happened to be a momentous one, a radical alteration they way he dressed effected on this trip. The city that attracted him most was Madurai, a temple city of great antiquity.
Madurai city,

If there is one city in India that has closer relation with Gandhiji, father of our nation,  than his place of birth Porbandar, Gujarat  and place of political activities, Sabarmati Ashram, Gujarat,  it is Madurai,  the  second largest city in Tamil Nadu, once the capital  of  Pandya kingdom. This  hoary city is famous for artistic and historical  Meenashi temple and also  for  Nayak rulers such as Thirumalai Nayak, et al. Gandhiji had been planning to change his attire for some time and came closer to taking a decision, but,  for various political reasons,  he kept postponing it. At Barisal , Bengal he was about to change his attire as a mark of his boycott against foreign clothes, later gave it up as the  famine-stricken people of Khulna, Bengal were dying of hunger and nakedness.
Simply Knowledge

This  historic  moment of ''change of attire'' to  get into ''loincloth'' took place on September 22, 1921  during the second of the five trips to  Madurai where  Gandhiji was the guest of  Ramji and Kalyanji  at 251- A  on West Masi Street. This uneventful, but momentous renunciation identified  Gandhiji  himself with the common man - in particular farmers of India and also enhanced his inner spiritual strength and his image. The place on the Kamarajar Salai where  he made  his  first public appearance in a loincloth is referred to as ‘Gandhi Pottal’ now. Here the people and the entire nation saw Gandhiji in a new attire, a new avatar, so to say looking like a half-naked fakir as remarked by India-baiter and Britain's worst arrogant politician Winston Churchill. His trip to Madurai made him more resolute and more spiritually oriented to free India from the British. It was here at Madurai Gandhi underwent spiritual rejuvenation that took him to the higher level of spiritual enlightenment

About his new attire and appearance, Gandhiji  wrote in Navajivan, the translation of which was  reproduced in The Hindu on October 15, 1921:

“I do not want either my co-workers or readers to adopt the loincloth. But I do wish that they should thoroughly realize the meaning of the boycott of foreign cloth and put forth their best effort to get it boycotted, and to get khadi manufactured. I do wish that they may understand that Swadeshi means everything.”
The dress of liberty was synonymous with Gandhiji's fraternity with his people and their burning patriotism that gave his moral strength.  In November 1994, at Vatican  the Pope  recalled the adoption of loincloth by Gandhi and remarked that  it a “spiritual act.


 01. Mahatma made his first visit to the Temple City on March 26, 1919 to enroll volunteers for Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act passed in 1919.

 02. On his historical second  trip, he stayed with industrialist Karumuthu Thiagarajar Chettiar’s guest at his residence On September 21, 1921,

 03. The Raja of Sivaganga  hosted Mahatma during his  third visit - September 28, 1927  at his residence near Kalpalam.
04. His fourth visit in 1934 was regarding fund-raising for the spread of Khadi cloth and use of Swadeshi (indigenous) cloth, etc.

05. During his last trip in 1946, Gandhiji  stayed in a  house on Krishna Rao Tank Street near  Madura Coats and for the first time visited the Meenashi temple. On his earlier trips he did not enter the temple, as the Harijans (Dalits) were not allowed to enter the temple. On July 8 1939 an historic event took place at Madurai. A. Vaidyanatha Iyer, a leading lawyer along with his friend  R.S. Naidu, Chairman  of  Meenashi Amman temple trust entered the temple along with Dalits, thus allowing the untouchables to enter into the temple for the first time in Tamil Nadu.

06. The huge building that houses the Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai is the historic Tamukkam Palace of Rani Mangammal of Nayak Dynasty built in1670 A.D. Later, this was under the occupation of the Nawab of Carnatic, the East India Company and a few others.

07. The Tamukkam palace complex comprising 13 acres of land was gifted by the Tamil Nadu State Government to the
All India Gandhi Smarak Nidhi for the purpose of housing Gandhi Memorial Museum.