Gandhi Heritage Sites - Writeups

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Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Connection with Gandhiji
Gandhiji adopted loin-cloth for the first time at Madurai in 1921. It became an inseparable part of his personality.

Gandhiji thought of changing his dress a couple of times before going to Madura in September 1921. It occurred to him for the first time at Barisal (Bengal) where he wanted to help people of famine-stricken Khulna. But he did not act on it because he thought his emotions were ‘tinged with egotism’. When Maulana Mohamed Ali got arrested in front of him Gandhiji thought of dispensing his cap and shirt. But he restrained himself fearing it might create a scene.

Reasons for the Change
As there were few days left for a complete boycott of foreign cloth in 1921, Gandhiji felt it is too difficult to replace all the foreign cloth at once. ‘Many are too poor to buy enough khaddar to replace the discarded foreign cloth.’ He advised them to be satisfied with the loin-cloth. In order to set the example, he declared to discard the cap and vest.

He wrote, ‘I adopt the change because I have always hesitated to advise anything I may not myself be prepared to follow, and also because I am anxious by leading the way to make it easy for those who cannot afford to change on discarding their foreign garments.’

In another article, he explained, ‘The dress of millions of agriculturists in India is really only the loin-cloth and nothing more. I have seen it with my own eyes wherever I have gone. I want the reader to measure from this the agony of my soul. I do not want either my co-workers or readers to adopt the loin-cloth. But I do wish that they should thoroughly realize the meaning of the boycott of foreign cloth and put forth their best effort to get it boycotted and to get khadi manufactured.’

Place in History
Gandhiji reached Madura on the night of September 22, 1921. Much discussion and arguments had already happened by that time. Many of his co-workers were not in favour of such a radical change. They feared people might not take that change kindly. Some might not understand it. Some might take Gandhiji as a lunatic. But Gandhiji was unperturbed.

On the night of September 22, Gandhiji decided ‘I should content myself with only loin-cloth until at least the 31st of October.’ He addressed the meeting of Madura weavers early next morning (on September 23). It was his first public appearance in loin-cloth. The change in dress became permanent and synonymous with his personality.

Architectural Documents | Library Catalogue

Site Address/Contact
Gandhi Memorial Museum
Madurai – 625 020
Tamilnadu, India
Phone: +91 045 2253 1060, +91 045 2252 2822 | Email: