Gandhi@150: Mahatma and my city

Mahatma Gandhi’s Kovai connect

Kanaklal Abhaichand, who had a chance to sit on the lap of Mahatma Gandhi, treasures a telegram sent by the Father of the Nation.

Kanaklal Abhaichand, who had a chance to sit on the lap of Mahatma Gandhi, treasures a telegram sent by the Father of the Nation.   | Photo Credit: S_SIVA SARAVANAN

The famous car procession of the Koniamman temple festival used to start with rituals including the sacrifice of animals such as goat. The sacrifice stopped in 1941 and one of the early settlers in the city who toiled for it received a special appreciation from none other than the messiah of Ahimsa, Mahatma Gandhi.

“Glad animal sacrifice stopped, Gandhi”, read the telegram dated March 13, 1941 addressed to Tribhovandas Vendravan, the name of the family-run business which was later shortened as T.V. and Brothers. It was a reply to a telegram sent by the family to the Mahatma that the animal sacrifice was stopped.

“Southern India Humanitarian League headed by S. Sripal had campaigned against the animal sacrifice. Shantilal Kapoorchan and Ramniklal Kapoorchan of our family joined the campaign in which they walked on streets with puppet heads of the sacrifice animals. The temple administration and devotees finally agreed to to stop the practice. On the day of the car procession in 1941, I developed severe fever. Though everyone said that it was due to the ire of Amman (the Godess), the family stood firm. The car procession was uneventful and the fever was gone on the next day. Everyone told the family that the fever was gone as Amman was happy and the Godess smiled. The animal sacrifice was stopped there,” recollects 89-year-old Kanaklal Abhaichand of the family, sitting at his ancestral home on Rangai Gowdar Street, which is now the office of T.V. and Brothers.

When Gandhiji visited the house in 1934, Mr. Abhaichand as a five-year-old boy had the chance to sit on his lap. His father Abhaichand Vendravan and mother Manjula also hosted the Mahatma during his second visit, accompanied by Kasturba Gandhi. Manjula gave away a couple of bangles to Kasturba for the freedom movement.

During the visit in 1934, jeweller P.A. Raju Chettiar presented Gandhiji a replica of his house made in silver. Gandhiji auctioned it and Vendravan, who was also a close friend of Chettiar, bought it for ₹500. Gandhiji used the money for the freedom movement.

Several people from the city donated their valuables towards the freedom movement, like Chandrakanthi Govindarajulu who, as a child, dropped her bangle in the collection bag. She later became the correspondent of PSGR Krishnammal College for Women.

“Though Gandhiji's visit to Coimbatore was limited to a couple of times, he had developed a special bond with several people in the industrial city amid his busy schedule towards two goals – social welfare and the freedom movement,” says local historian Rajesh Govindarajulu, grandson of Raju Chettiar.

“After meeting Gandhiji in 1934, my grandfather started using Khadi and he was a khadar-clad man for the rest of his life spanning 50 years. Gandhiji personally knew many personalities in Coimbatore including P.S.G. Venkataswamy Naidu who used to sing bajhan for the leader, Kovai Subri, Kovai Khadar Ayyamuthu of the Khadar movement, nationalist and advocate N. S. Ramaswamy Iyengar (NSR Road was named after him), V.C. Vellingiri Gounder, LMW founder G.K.Devarajulu, SNR Chinnasamy Naidu, Diwan Bahadur C.S. Rathna Sabapathy Mudaliyar (D.B. Road and R.S.Puram were named after him),” adds Mr. Govindarajulu.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 2:59:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/mahatma-gandhis-kovai-connect/article29569283.ece

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