INDIA BECAME A REPUBLIC on the 26th of January 1948. Every year since then the 26th of January has been a public holiday known as Republic Day. On the 25th of January 2023, we met a senior advocate sitting in the Gujarat Club, which is next door to Ahmedabad’s Civil & Sessions Court. After showing us around the court building, he invited us to join him and his colleagues for the next day’s celebration.
The Republic Day celebrations began in the garden of the Court building at 9 am. A few soldiers, some of them armed with automatic rifles, arranged the flag raising. At 9 o clock, the Indian flag was unfurled by one of the senior judges, wearing a colourful pugree on her head, in front of a large group of senior advocates and some of the court’s staff. Many of the female advocates were attractively dressed in saris decorated with the colours of the Indian flag (green, saffron, and white). One of the ladies told us that 25 of these had been specially ordered from Agra.
When the flag was unfurled at the top of the flagpole, everyone sung the national anthem,”Jana Gana Mana”. Then everyone began taking photographs of one another. After this, we moved en-masse from the court garden to the compound of the Gujarat Club, where Mahatma Gandhi met Vallabhai Patel for the first time.
You can imagine my astonishment when I saw an elderly man who looked just like Mahatma Gandhi, both in physiognomy and in his manner of dressing. Holding a wooden staff and dressed in a white dhoti, sandals, and a shawl, he was a highly credible Gandhi lookalike.
Residing in the USA, this Gandhi impersonator has attended many Indian patriotic ceremonies. To date, he has appeared in 35 in the USA and about 60 in Ahmedabad. His presence was a huge success. Everyone wanted to be photographed alongside him. With his sturdy staff in one hand, he held his mobile phone in the other. Had they been available, I wonder whether the real Mahatma would have been happy to use one.
The lookalike took part in the Club’s flag raising ceremony, giving a short speech. After the ceremony was over, we were invited to join the advocates for a special breakfast in the Club. We were served jelebis, ganthia, kadhi, and shredded raw papaya with whole green chillies.
We were very happy to have been invited to join the advocates in their extremely enjoyable celebration of Republic Day at the Gujarat Club. This occasion increased my already great affection for the lovely city of Ahmedabad.