Sarvodaya Day saw unusual activity at the Central Station with singing, dancing and spinning the charkha.

As usual the Central railway station was crackling with life and frenetic movement on Saturday last. But as the passengers and their kin entered the main hall they did a double take on seeing half a dozen school girls busy spinning the charkha! It was Sarvodaya Day and the Aseema Trust, Anusuya Foundation for Women and Children, Gandhi Mission, Chennai, together with the Southern Railway had come up with the idea of paying tribute to Gandhiji on his death anniversary.

The founder director of Aseema Trust, V.R. Devika, said the reason for choosing the Central station is that “it is only in the railway station that you can see people of all hues, all dispositions and all status”. The girls from Avvai Home were adept at spinning and when onlookers were invited to try their hand at the charkha, a few foreigners were eager to volunteer.

Try your hand

There was this woman from Bihar who was waiting for her train later in the evening, Bemikaladevi — she came and took to it like a duck to water. It almost seemed like she had missed working on the charkha, Devika remarked.

The day's programme was to urge men and women of India to unite for peace and justice based on Gandhian principles of truth and non-violence. The date was chosen as it is on this day 62 years ago that the Father of the Nation fell a prey to an assassin's bullet.

Interestingly, it was Mahatma Gandhi who coined the word Sarvodaya as the title of his 1908 translation of Ruskin's tract, Unto This Last. Sarva means all, udaya means uplift. Thus the word signifies Progress for All.

Sowmya Madhanagopal and her students took the stage next and sang songs and bhajans dear to the heart of the Mahatma, beginning with Vaishnava Janato. A good many in the audience joined when the troupe came to “Shanti Nilava vendum”.

Then came the show stealers, the little dancers from schools in Anna Nagar. Trained by choreographer Premnath, the colourfully costumed kids danced to the song, Ahimsa devi (recorded by Bombay Jayashri) which described her 63 attributes. The Anusuya Foundation honoured all the artists and the programme came to a close with “Raghupathi Raghava”.