ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: For Donkeys Only?

Weekly Notes from Volume XIV, No 34, August 25, 1962.

At a recent meeting in Mysore, Pandit Nehru upset some affectionate souls who had gone to garland him. Bearing the burden of the garlands, one should have thought, would have been a labour of love for the Prime Minister. But instead he roundly rebuked his admirers: “Garlands are meant for donkeys”. He castigated them for their “wasteful habit” and asked them to spend money more usefully.

Since the habits of the people of our country are so often moulded by the fads and fancies of the man they love most, it looks as if the garlanding habit may die away after Pandit Nehru’s outburst. This would be a tragedy. The garland is one of the few remnants of the once beautiful India. Is it to be wasted on donkeys? And what will the foreigners think? How will we greet our distinguished visitors?

The saree is a beautiful symbol of India, a worthy ambassador of our land and culture. The garland deserves this tribute no less, being at once, a mark of esteem, love and appreciation. Pandit Nehru’s modernism is well known; that people should live in the present and look to the future instead of glorifying the past is unexceptionable. But does that mean that we should do away with everything ancient?

The garland is an institution. Perhaps Shri Nehru will himself realise that his outburst against it was an impetuous act not intended to be taken seriously by his admirers.

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