Historical Background: The Salt March
The Salt Law, imposed by the British in 1857, right at the beginning of their rule in India, was one of the most exploitative and backbreaking rules in the context of the Indian masses. This was something that Gandhi realized as early as in 1891 when he was a law student in London. In some of his writings for the Vegetarian Society, he narrates the poverty of Indian people and their food habits. He mentions that a large section of the people of India could not afford even two meals a day. Even the single meal they had, was not accompanied with any vegetable or cereals. Salt was the only accompaniment and taste maker, ‘which was heavily taxed’.
In the Lahore Convention of 1929, Indian National Congress unanimously decided to launch India's Freedom Struggle. Mahatma Gandhi was given the baton. Mahatma Gandhi decided to begin the freedom struggle with this cause of non-cooperation towards the salt tax. Many doubted this cause, but Mahatma Gandhi stood to his conviction & soon message of Dandi March reverberated throughout India.
World has witnessed many freedom struggles, but none as unique as Dandi March. The year was 1930 Mahatma Gandhi decided to protest British Government’s position of tax on salt. The noble path Mahatma chose was that of non-cooperation. Taking 80 marchers with him, he began 390-kilometer-long walk from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi. Throughout the path, thousands of people came to pay their homage. He taught them the noble way of truth & non-violence. Finally reaching Dandi, they took a pinch salt, a simple act that shook the British empire and the message for India’s independence resounded through the world.
National Salt Satyagrah Memorial, Dandi
Saifee Villa is a place of importance where on 5th April 1930 Mahatma Gandhi stayed at night prior to the historical event of Salt Satyagraha against the Salt law implemented by the British government during the colonial rule.Mahatma Gandhi and marchers reached Dandi at 08.00 AM. To offer welcome to Mahatma Gandhi and invite him to stay at his Bungalow, Sirajudin Vasi Seth came there traversing a long & muddy road. Impressed by his spirit of patriotism Mahatma Gandhi told him, “You not only offered us your bungalow but also came all the way to receive us.
On 5th April, 1930 a large public meeting took place near the Banyan Tree situated near the school at 06.30 PM and after religious chanting & prayers Mahatma Gandhi addressed this mammoth gathering. This place is known as Prarthna Mandir (prayer temple).
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi in Navsari district, Gujarat to the nation on 30th January, 2019 - Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary. At the memorial site, he also unveiled statues of Mahatma Gandhi and 80 Satyagrahis who had marched with him during the historic Dandi Salt March in 1930 to make salt from sea water against the British law. The memorial also has 24-narrative murals depicting various events and stories from the historic 1930 Salt March. Solar trees are installed to meet the energy requirements of the memorial complex. The PM took a round through the memorial. Addressing a public meeting, the PM congratulated everyone who has worked for the memorial. PM said “this memorial reminds us of the great sacrifices of the people of our country for the cause of freedom”. The PM added, the Dandi memorial encapsulates the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi- Agrah for Swadeshi, Swatchagrah and Satyagraha and it will be a major attraction for the tourists in the coming days.