Gandhi Jayanti is a national holiday celebrated in India to mark the occasion of the birthday ofMahatma Gandhi, the "Father of the Nation". It is celebrated on October 2, every year. It is one of the three official declared National Holidays of India and is observed in all its states and union territories. The United Nations General Assembly announced on 15 June 2007 that it adopted a resolution which declared that October 2 will be celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.
The day is marked by prayer services and tributes all over India, especially at Raj Ghat, Gandhi's memorial in New Delhi where he was cremated. Popular celebration includes prayer meetings, commemorative ceremonies in different cities by colleges, local government institutions and socio-political institutions. Painting and essay competitions are conducted and best awards are awarded for projects in schools and the community, on themes of glorifying peace, non-violence and Gandhi's effort in Indian Freedom Struggle. Usually, Gandhi's favourite devotional song, Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram is sung in memory of him.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace and the father of the nation was born on 2 October 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat. In his autobiography My experiments with Truth Gandhi recalls that his childhood and teen age years were characterised by education in a local school, marriage to Kasturba at the age of 13 and an intrinsic love for ‘truth’ and ‘duty’.
At the age of the eighteen, he went to England to study law. In 1891, Gandhi returned to India and set up practice at Rajkot. In 1893, he received an offer from an Indian firm in South Africa. With his two minor sons and Kasturba, he went to South Africa at the age of twenty-four. Colonial and racial discrimination showed its ugly colours in the famous train incident, when he was thrown off the compartment meant for the ‘Sahibs’.
During his more than two decades of stay in South Africa, Gandhi protested against the discriminating treatment that was meted out to Indians. He protested against the Asiatic (Black) Act and the Transvaal Immigration Act and started his non-violent civil disobedience movement. A satyagrahis camp known as the Tolstoy Farm was established at Lawley, 21 miles from Johannesburg, on 30 May 1910, in order to shelter the satyagrahis and their families. The South African Government had to heed to the voice of reason and in 1914 repealed most of the obnoxious acts against the Indians. The weekly Indian Opinion (1903) became Gandhiji chief organ of education and propaganda.
Gandhi returned to India in 1915. After an interrupted stay in Santiniketan in February-March, 1915, Gandhi collected his companions of Phoenix and established the Satyagraha Ashram in Ahmedabad city. This was shifted in June 1917 to the banks of the Sabarmati. This Ashram became platform for carrying out his cherished social reforms prime among which were Harijan welfare rehabilitation of lepers and self-reliance through weaving Khadi.