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Ahmedabad Day 1 – A Gandhi Traveler’s Journal

[Editor’s note: Stephanie Brown was a participant of this year’s tour, which I helped to organize. She has been journaling at her ShutterFly photo blog where she has posted many more images that she and her father Jerry took]

The Gandhi Legacy tour is a J-term course option at Salisbury University in Maryland.  One of our tour members, Anthony, attended as a SU graduate student last year and came back this year to bring his fiancé, Katie.  Half seriously they started talking about getting married at the Sabarmati Ashram.  Arun caught wind of it and started making the preparations including re-writing the vows that his Grandfather once used to be relevant to the times.  Anthony and Katie picked out wedding clothes during a market excursion in Kolhapur and the wedding was planned to take place shortly after we arrived at the ashram.  It was a beautiful, simple ceremony.

Aerial view of Ahmedabad on Sabarmati River

Ahmedabad Day 1

Our first train experience was an overnight ride from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.  I thought this might be a good opportunity to get caught up with journaling and photo edits but since we did not board until after 10pm it was lights out after we settled in.  I slept remarkably well in my very hard upper berth and was pretty well rested when we arrived just before 7am. 

sabarmati ashram entranceAfter a quick breakfast and change of clothes at our hotel we set off for the Sabarmati Ashram and one of the great surprises of our trip.

The Sabarmati Ashram is actually the second site used in Ahmedabad.  The first was much closer to town but was limited in space and was abandoned after plague broke out in the city.  The second site, on the bank of the Sabarmati River was built to the needs of the community.  Gandhi called Sabarmati Ashram home until he set off on the Salt March to Dandi in 1930.  The ashram included paper making and spinning/weaving training centers the were created to further Gandhi’s belief in local production and self sustainability (swadeshi).  These buildings are now used by an organization called Manav Sadhna.

sabarmati ashram buildingWe had lunch with the staff and volunteers after coming together for multi-faith prayers, many of which were the same as Gandhi once used in the Ashram.  One of the founders of Manav Sadhna explained how he was inspired to work with the slum dwelling children of the local sanitation workers, so-called Untouchables.  They have a craft room and a residential school on sight, and within the slums they provide preschool care, support for basic health and dental needs, educational and food programs for school age children.  Their reach is phenomenal feeding more than 8000 children per day!

Manav Sadhna Children making Post cardsManav Sadhna has a unique ‘learning while earning program’ for kids, which provides them a safe haven from street life, a means to generate income, and the inspiration and motivation to further educate themselves. This program, however, is not limited to kids, but reaches out to women, elderly, and various artists in the Gujarati area. 

>> Continue reading at Gandhi Tour Blog

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