Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi said he would wear loin cloth only for a month. 100 yrs on, it’s a permanent symbol: Urvish Kothari

(Urvish Kothari is a senior columnist. This column first appeared in The Print on September 22, 2021)

  • September 22 marks 100 years of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s decision to change his style of dressing and adopt the loin cloth. At first, he had only intended to sustain it till the end of October 1921. During the non-cooperation movement of 1921, Gandhi declared a boycott of foreign cloth. But as time passed, he realised it was too difficult to replace all the foreign cloth at once because people did not have enough resources to do it. During his tour of then Madras province, Gandhi made a decision and announced it in a public meeting at Madura on 22 September 1921. He advised people to be satisfied with a loin cloth. He had suggested the same in a meeting at Madras a week before. But in Madura, he went further. Gandhi said, “I give the advice under a full sense of responsibility. In order therefore to set the example I propose to discard at least up to the 31st October my topi and vest and to content myself with only a loin-cloth and a chaddar whenever found necessary for the protection of the body….” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 21, Page 180-181). Gandhi’s clothing evolved along with his role in India’s freedom struggle. The loin cloth was its ultimate manifestation, remembered along with the spectacles and walking stick today. It even became a subject of frivolous social media debate when the Uttar Pradesh speaker commented on it recently…

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