Obama and Michelle inspired by beauty and quiet of Rajghat

United States President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama visited Rajghat here on Monday morning and paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.

Though Mr. Obama laid a wreath at the memorial of the Father of the Nation, he could not plant a sapling as there was reportedly no more space on the premises.

An ardent admirer of the Mahatma, Mr. Obama seemed inspired by the surroundings and remarked that it was a simple yet beautiful place. Ms. Obama too remarked that the memorial had been done up beautifully.

During their 20-minute visit, Mr. Obama inquired how many people visited the samadhi daily. He was told by the Rajghat Samadhi Committee Secretary, Rajnish Kumar, who received the President and his wife, that about 10,000 people visit it daily.

In the notebook, Mr. Obama and his wife wrote: “We will always remember the great soul who changed the world with his message of peace, tolerance and love. More than 60 years after his passing, his light continues to inspire the world.”

As a token of appreciation, the Rajghat Samadhi Committee presented Mr. Obama with a charkha or spinning wheel, symbolising India. “We usually gift our guests a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, a couple of books and a khadi scroll with the seven social sins which Gandhi quoted in Young India in 1925 imprinted on it. But today in addition to all these, we also presented a model of the charkha to Mr. Obama,” said Mr. Kumar.

Mr. Obama was also presented with Mahatma's autobiography My Experiments with Truth and books on him — The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi in 100 years.

Returning the gesture, Mr. Obama presented the Rajghat authorities with a piece of white stone brought all the way from Martin Luther King Junior's Memorial in Washington D.C. It was set on a small black base that had the Presidential seal and Mr. Obama's signature embossed on it.

In an implicit message that he believed wholeheartedly in Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of peace, Mr. Obama's wreath had white flowers denoting peace.

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