United States President Donald Trump and his wife Melania on Monday (February 25) tried their hands at spinning the ‘charkha’ (spinning wheel) at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. The US first couple was accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi, who reached the Ashram a few minutes earlier, showed Trump and the US First Lady ‘Hriday Kunj’, a room inside the Ashram where Gandhiji and his wife Kasturba lived. Trump reached Ahmedabad at 11.37 am for the first leg of his India visit.
Modi explained the importance of this place in India’s freedom struggle. During the visit, Trump and Melania also tried their hands on the khadi spinning wheel, also knwon as charkha. Melania also helped Trump in weaving khadi on charkha.
Before leaving, Trump wrote a message in the visitors’ book of the Ashram. “To my great friend Prime Minister Modi – Thank you for this wonderful visit,” wrote Trump and signed the message. It was also signed by Melania.
The US President was briefed about Gandhiji and the importance of charkha as a symbol of self-reliance. The Trumps were in the Ashram for around 15 minutes. Modi also presented “Three Wise Monkeys,” a larger version of one belonging to Mahatma Gandhi, as a memento to the US president.
Trump and Modi then resumed their roadshow till Motera stadium.
Ashram trustee Kartikeya Sarabhai, who welcomed Trump and Melania with a khadi stole, told reporters later that the Trumps told him how much they enjoyed their visit to the Ashram.
“They said the place gave them a sense of peace. They said they understood the symbolism of this place. The central government gifted them a statue of Gandhiji’s ‘Three Monkeys’, conveying the message of speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil,” Sarabhai said.
He said the Ashram trust gifted the Tumps a special edition of Gandhiji’s autobiography, a pencil drawing of Gandhiji and a charkha.
The Sabarmati Ashram, also known as Harijan Ashram, was home to Gandhi from 1917 till 1930 and one of the main centres during the Indian freedom struggle. It was named after the Sabarmati river, on the banks of which it is situated.
At the ashram, Gandhi had formed a school that focused on manual labour, agriculture and literacy, in order to advance his efforts for India’s self-sufficiency.
Gandhi began his famous Dandi March, or Salt March, in protest against the British Salt Law, from this ashram on March 12, 1930.
On the same day, he vowed not to return to the ashram until India gains freedom. Although India achieved independence in 1947, Gandhi could never visit the ashram again since he was assassinated in 1948.
(With inputs from agencies)