The idea behind having Mahatma Gandhi as the theme of this year’s Republic Day flower show is to curb littering at Lalbagh Botanical Garden, the venue of the annual event.
The city’s famed lung space turns into a dumping yard around January 26 every year. This year, the Horticulture Department hopes people will heed Gandhi’s message and keep the park clean. But it’s not banking on Gandhi alone to drive home the message. Volunteers will be posted around food stalls to make sure people throw waste only in designated bins and to penalise the violators. To discourage the use of plastic, reusable bottles have been made available at drinking water counters.
The life and times of Gandhi have been replicated at Lalbagh to mark his 150th birth anniversary. Floral and millet replicas of Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi Kutir and Gandhi playing with his grandson Kanu will be the centre of attraction for the next 10 days. Kanu, a former NASA scientist who died in 2016, had walked ahead of Gandhi on the beaches of Gujarat’s Dandi village during the Salt Satyagraha in March-April 1930.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who inaugurated the flower show on Friday, said people, especially youth and politicians, should draw inspiration from Gandhi on tolerance and follow in his footsteps.
Meena, a visitor, was excited. “I haven’t seen Sabarmati Ashram or Sevagram. But looking at this, I’m sure that place inspires the same calmness,” she said.
Visitors can see replicas of Gandhi’s charkha, the Dandi march, a statue of him with a girl child, a two-faced statue of him and his wife Kasturba Gandhi, etc. A special attraction is a statue of Gandhi made from millets in the glass house, with the famous bhajan ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ playing in the backdrop. All around the glass house are photographs of Gandhi at public functions and with famous people.
The statues of Gandhi’s Three Monkeys (representing the principle ‘hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil’) inside and outside the glass house are an added attraction. Large-size models of his spectacles are placed outside the glass house. Another highlight is his face made with colourful balls.
Do not miss Gandhi meditating outside his Sabarmati Ashram, in flesh and blood. No, he has not been reincarnated. That’s Vemgal Somashekhar, dressed up as Gandhi. This will be the 75-year-old’s sixth public appearance as Gandhi. He will sit throughout the flower show that will go on until January 27.