Salt Satyagraha Memorial

Salt that Seasons: Postcard from Dandi



When Mahatma Gandhi scooped a fistful of salt, he ignited civil disobedience actions throughout the nation. His Dandi March in 1930 coated 390 km in about 25 days, had over 80 members and 21 halts from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, to this village in Navsari, Gujarat, alongside the Arabian Beach. Dhirubhai Patel had solely been born that 12 months.

The march was woven into the very material of Dandi, with each home having a charkha, even a number of years after Independence. Individuals spun and wore solely Khadi. “Such was the identification that when a member of the family returned from overseas, he could be acquired on the Ahmedabad airport with a pair of Khadi garments, which he would put on earlier than getting into the village,” says Dhirubhai, 92, who runs an schooling belief in Dandi. Had been it not for this well-known march, the village, with its 1,200 individuals, would have “gone into oblivion”, he says.
Salt Satyagraha Memorial
Guests on the Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial in Dandi, Gujarat. (Photograph: Nirmal Harindran)

There are indicators that learn “Dandi Path” all alongside the 15 km slender canopied street from Navsari city to Dandi. The village, with its winding paths, has a mixture of double-storeyed, concrete bungalows and cottages with terracotta tiled roofs. In April this 12 months, it was within the highlight when Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu arrived to conclude the Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, a part of the celebration of India’s 75 years of Independence. There was a commemorative 25-day-long Dandi March, flagged off from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.

Dominated by Koli Patels, right this moment, Dandi can be a spot of pilgrimage for Dawoodi Bohras, with a mosque and a dargah, near the Saifee Villa, the place Gandhi stayed, which is now a part of the Nationwide Salt Satyagraha Memorial (NSSM).

“For the reason that memorial opened, we’ve got had about 7,000-10,000 guests on weekends, particularly Sunday evenings,” says Kalubhai Dangar, one of many 80 workers members on the memorial. Guests are largely from Surat, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Daman, Silvassa and Mumbai.
Salt Satyagraha MemorialSalt Satyagraha Memorial Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial in Dandi, Gujarat. (Photograph: Nirmal Harindran)
The memorial, inaugurated in 2019, is unfold over 15 acres. It captures the expertise of the march, from Gandhi’s prayer meet below the banyan tree to the making of your personal salt at particular person pans. On the centre of the memorial is a lake that harvests rainwater and offers a really feel of the ocean. Murals and bronze life-sized sculptures evoke the story of the march.

Apart from the memorial, the village has little employment alternatives. Salinity ingress and issues of stray cattle and wild boars have lowered these depending on farming to only 5 per cent, says former sarpanch Parimalbhai Patel, 60. Most youth desire to hitch the Industrial Coaching Institute in Navsari after Class X and work as fitters, plumbers, welders, or fabrication professionals overseas. Many have been working for years within the Center East, Europe and North Americas (Canada).

Kapil Patel, 34, joined as a information on the NSSM at half the wage after he misplaced his job at a personal recruiting agency in Vadodara. In his household, his grandfather and father have labored in oil corporations overseas, whereas his youthful brother, skilled in welding and piping, is at present working in Indonesia.

For Shilaben Patel, 50, who ran a pakoda and pav-bhaji cart on the Dandi seaside together with her older sister for the final 27 years, the memorial is an revenue channel. She needed to shift nearer to the memorial ever for the reason that seaside shut down as a result of COVID-19. “With the memorial, we now have extra guests however with COVID our revenue has drastically fallen,” she says.

Shakuntalaben Patel, 49, who got here to Dandi as a bride within the early ’90s, remembers there was no street, nor connectivity. A pond in close by Matwad village was the one supply of water. “With solely an hour’s provide of water, individuals would combat over water,” she says. It’s when the NRIs pooled in to sink a borewell in 1992 that piped water lastly got here to their houses.

Dandi is among the Samras villages of Gujarat (by which the villagers select their ward members and sarpanch with consensus and don’t go for polls). Vimalbhai Patel, 41, the sarpanch, nevertheless, sees a greater future for Dandi within the coming years. “With the event on the memorial, the place a meals zone, Khadi Bhandar and a ebook stall are below building, it can convey in additional vacationers. There are additionally talks of growing the seaside,” he says.

The ocean has, in spite of everything, receded removed from the precise spot the place Gandhi had symbolically defied the salt legislation.



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