January 16, 2008 / 10:26 AM / 12 years ago

Gandhi's ashes to rest at sea

Indian school children pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in a file photo. Some of the final ashes of Mohandas K. Gandhi, India's freedom hero and peace apostle, also known as Mahatma, will be scattered over the Arabian Sea after his family objected to a museum's plans to display them. REUTERS/Munish Sharma

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Some of the final ashes of Mohandas K. Gandhi, India’s freedom hero and peace apostle, also known as Mahatma, will be scattered over the Arabian Sea after his family objected to a museum’s plans to display them.

Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu hardliner in 1948 and after his cremation several urns containing his ashes were dispatched to his followers across the country to be displayed at memorials.

One of those urns was handed over last year to a museum dedicated to Gandhi by an Indian business family that had preserved it for almost 60 years.

The Mani Bhawan Gandhi Sangralaya had plans to display the urn along with Gandhi’s personal belongings, but his descendants intervened, asking the museum to consider scattering the ashes at sea.

“In deference to the wishes of the family the ashes will be scattered over the Arabian Sea on January 30, which is his 60th death anniversary,” museum official Dhirubhai Mehta said.

Hindus normally cremate their dead and scatter the ashes over rivers or seas on the 13th day after death.

The Times of India said Gandhi’s ashes will be immersed by descendants of his eldest son Harilal, whose troubled relationship with his illustrious father has been the subject of many books, films and plays.

Harilal, who once even converted to Islam to spite his father, was not present at Gandhi’s funeral.

“The family has decided to give Harilal’s descendants the opportunity they never got” to participate in a funeral ritual for Gandhi, the newspaper quoted Ushaben Gokani, one of Gandhi’s granddaughters, as saying.

Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Simon Denyer and Jerry Norton

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