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Old Birla House spruced up for Gandhi's 70th death anniversary


IANS New Delhi
The Old Birla House, also known as "Gandhi Smriti" in the heart of the national capital, where Mahatma Gandhi spent his last 144 days, was being spruced up on Monday -- on the eve of his 70th death anniversary.
It was here on January 30, 1948, that the Father of the Nation was shot dead while on his way for evening prayers.
The list of guests for Tuesday include President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
On Monday evening, labourers were running the last lap to spruce up the place: walls of the building were being painted white, gardeners were making garlands of yellow and orange marigold flowers, and green Ashoka leaves, and the boundary walls were being painted red.
The security arrangements were being taken care of by the Special Protection Group (SPG) and as a precautionary measure, white sheets of cloth were being hung between iron poles to act as "view cutters".
In 1971, the Old Birla House was acquired by the government of India, was converted into a memorial and opened to public on August 15, 1973.
On display in the museum are photographs, sculptures, paintings, inscriptions on rocks and relics on Gandhi's life. His personal belongings like a pair of spectacles and a walking stick, among others, are also carefully preserved in the museum.
Modi is the Chairman of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS), which looks after the museum.
Dipanker Shri Gyan, Director of Old Birla House, 5-Tees January Marg, told IANS that Tuesday's programme would start at 3.30 p.m with more than 400 children giving a "musical tribute to Gandhi".
This will be followed by a "Sarva Dharma Prarthana" (inter-faith prayer) and recitation of "Bhakti Sangeet" (devotional music) by Anup Jalota.
Gyan said the chief guests were expected to arrive around 4.30 p.m and stay till 5.17 p.m -- the time when Gandhi was shot -- when the programme ends.
He said that about 5,000 invitations have been sent and 2,000 people could pay their respects to the Father of the Nation on Tuesday by showing their identity cards at the entrance, without any invitation cards.
"We have been giving advertisements in media that people can come and pay tribute. He (Gandhi) is the Father of the Nation and everyone should be given a chance," Gyan said.
He said that there would be security personnel in uniform and civil dress, but did not comment on their total number.

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First Published: Jan 29 2018 | 8:54 PM IST

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