Khadi, Swadeshi and Gandhiji

Today is 2 October, Gandhiji‘s birthday. Internationally, Gandhiji is known for satyagraha or the civil disobedience movement and peaceful protests; however, he was also instrumental in starting the khadi movement in India.

Gandhiji

                                                photo courtesy: gandhimuseum.org

At the time (early 1920s), raw materials were entirely exported to England and then re-imported as expensive finished cloth, depriving the local population of work and profit. The khadi movement promoted an ideology that Indians could be self-reliant, by freeing themselves from the need to consume these high priced goods and clothes. Gandhiji also felt that in a county where manual labor was looked down upon, it was essential to bridge the gap between high and low, rich and poor and celebrate dignity of labour. In fact, he asked every person to work at the charkha, at least for an hour a day as a sacrifice to the country.

To this day, khadi has rich meaning – standing for independent, hand-made, self-reliant product. In essence, it’s the ‘fabric of freedom’ and the Indian national flag can only be made out of khadi.

Here are a couple of khadi items I made sure moved with me. I’ve had this kurta since the first year of undergrad. It has worn-in well and we’ve had so many shared memories over the years.

KhadiKurtaThis traditional jhola is more recent addition from about 5 years ago, picked up at a Khadi Gram Udyog Bhavan.

KhadiBagHappy Gandhi Jayanthi,

a

Glossary:

Charkha:  literally means wheel; refers to a spinning wheel or hand-cranked spinning machine. See how to use a charkha.

Gandhi Jayanthi: Gandhiji’s birthday and a national day in India

Jhola: a type of sling bag worn over the shoulder like a handbag (not cross-body)

Ji: gender neutral honorif suffix similar to the Japanese san

Khadi or Khaddar: handspun and hand-woven cloth usually made from cotton

Kurta: a long-sleeved, hip-length boxy upper body garment, usually worn by men; kurti is more tailored version usually worn by women

Satyagraha: loosely translated as “insistence on truth” (satya “truth”; agraha “insistence” or “holding firmly to”)

Swadeshi: self-sufficiency

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