Tourists invited to live like Gandhi

Updated 03 November 2013
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Tourists invited to live like Gandhi

Tourists searching for peace and simplicity can for the first time check in to Mahatma Gandhi’s most famous ashram in India. But don’t expect modern comforts. And chastity is required.
For 1,000 rupees ($16) a night, tourists can sample the lifestyle of India’s famously ascetic independence leader by staying at the first ashram he established, set up in 1915 in the western state of Gujarat.
Guests at the ashram, which opened to holidaymakers earlier this month, can try their hand at spinning, visit local communities, pray and meditate, all while wearing khadi — hand-woven cloth — during their stay.
But they must adhere to Gandhi’s 11 vows that he promoted including non-violence, no possessions, use of local goods, working for daily food, self restraint, including chastity, and control of diet.
And they are also encouraged to follow Gandhi’s austere daily routine, such as waking at 5am and undertaking domestic chores.
“The objective of this program is to allow people to experience a sustainable lifestyle, to enjoy the simplicity of Gandhi, experience the virtue of Mahatma,” said Nischalavalamb Barot, a travel agent who helped develop the program called “Live Gandhi for a While.”
“This might change perceptions of tourists towards life, society and our natural resources. This might also help tourists find peace and satisfaction within,” Barot told AFP.
Gandhi went to stay at the bungalow, now called Kochrab Ashram and then owned by a lawyer friend, after he returned to India from South Africa in 1915.
From this base, in a village on the outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad, he rejected material wealth and developed some of the ideas for which he became famous.
In one incident, he upset neighbours by inviting a low-caste man, a so-called “untouchable”, to come and live at the ashram as part of his campaign against India’s rigid and deeply ingrained caste system.
The ashram is managed by a nearby university called Gujarat Vidyapith, which Gandhi himself founded in 1920 to “liberate the Indian youths from the shackles of British colonial rule.”
The “Live with Gandhi” program was launched on Oct. 2 to coincide with the 144th anniversary of the birth of Gandhi. Tourists have not yet made bookings, but Barot stressed there were lots of inquiries.
India has plenty of museums and monuments to honour the country’s independence icon, whose personal philosophy and ideas are considered outdated by many in rapidly modernising India.
Known as Mahatma or Great Soul, Gandhi spearheaded a non-violent campaign against the British Raj that finally saw India gain its freedom from colonial rule in 1947. He was shot dead by a Hindu hardliner in New Delhi just months later in 1948.
Despite the many commemorations for Gandhi, Barot, who developed the program with the university, said he hoped the ashram offered something different.
“This is the first time that we are attempting to understand the value and principles of a sustainable life, which Gandhi believed in and practised,” said Barot, who operates a sustainable tourism agency.
However he stressed a stay at the ashram would not be an easy one.
“They will have to follow the vows that Gandhi himself followed in the ashram.... They will also wear the khadi throughout the program.”


More than 40 envoys tour King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival in Riyadh

Updated 20 March 2019
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More than 40 envoys tour King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival in Riyadh

  • The diplomats saw the Camel Village, the World of Nomads, among other events
  • The World of Nomads event showcased the histories and cultures of nomadic peoples from more than 75 countries

RIYADH: More than 40 ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions accredited to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday visited the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival in the southern Sayahdah district of Al-Dahnaa.

They toured the festival’s activities for several hours, including the Camel Village, the World of Nomads event, the desert park and various pavilions. The World of Nomads event showcased the histories and cultures of nomadic peoples from more than 75 countries.

The delegation expressed happiness with the festival’s activities, stressing that Saudi Arabia has become a tourist and heritage destination.

The delegation thanked King Salman and the crown prince for providing the opportunity for many countries worldwide to participate in this event.

The festival, lasted for more than 43 days, aimed to promote the camel heritage in Saudi Arabia, Arab and Islamic culture.

The organizing committee of the festival was keen to celebrate the ancient desert symbol that reflects an authentic and extended culture by organizing a world festival highlighting the culture of camels, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Earlier, Camel Club Chairman Fahd bin Falah bin Hithlin thanked the Saudi leadership for supporting the annual celebration of Saudi culture and heritage.