Rahul Gandhi celebrates Children's Day, greeted with giant 'rangoli'

Hingoli (Maharashtra), Nov 14 (IANS): Congress MP Rahul Gandhi celebrated his great-grandfather and India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday with a large group of kids to mark Children's Day, even as a Gujarat-based artist dedicated a gigantic rangoli to the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' (BYJ) leader.

On Sunday night, over 2,000 kids of various age groups participated in a special cultural show organised on Children's Day eve where they sang, danced and acted, with Rahul Gandhi in the audience who also later joined them briefly.

On Monday, as the BJY resumed after a day's rest, thousands of excited parents turned up at various points enroute to greet Rahul Gandhi, celebrate Children's Day and click pictures.

A visibly happy Rahul Gandhi interacted with them, and distributed chocolates or balloons to the bubbly kids as the march continued.

The Congress leader had another pleasant surprise in store that revived his grandmother, the late PM Indira Gandhi's memories of her visit to the Parbhani district on October 16, 1979.

A local cobbler, Raghoji Rao, had made a pair of chappals especially for Indira Gandhi and wanted to present it to her, said his descendents who came to meet Rahul Gandhi on Monday.

However, Rao had said he would not just 'hand over the pair of footwear' to Indira Gandhi, but insisted he would make her wear it with his hands, and the powerful Iron Lady had agreed with a smile.

A photograph of Rao gently making Indira wear his footwear creation was presented by his kin to Rahul Gandhi which he acknowledged amidst cheers and claps.

Earlier on Monday, an Ahmedabad-based artist created a 10,000 sq ft 'rangoli' of Rahul Gandhi on a massive carpet spread over an open ground with scores of Congressmen coming to view and admire the work.

Though Rahul Gandhi was not allowed by his security staff to visit the rangoli venue, party leaders said that he viewed photos and videos of the creation and appreciated it.

"I got a request only on Friday to perform a unique welcome gesture and I said why not a rangoli, which is a traditional Indian form of greeting," the artist, Rahul Swami (33), told IANS from the spot.

On Friday-Saturday, he spent 24 hours only to sketch Rahul's image on the ground and in the next 12 hours he filled up with a riot of colours.

"In total, I have used around 12 tonnes of different types of colours, brought in trucks from Vadodara and Aurangabad, as sufficient stocks were not available here," said Swami, who hails from a family of restaurateurs in Sendhwa, Madhya Pradesh.

He said that his wife Divya supports his hobby while his 4-year-old daughter Reona also loves to create rangolis along with her dad - who holds five world records and several national records for his colourful creations.

Heaving learnt the art from his Pune-based maternal uncle Jitendra Vaishnav, Swami has created around 100,000 rangolis in the past 13 years - "without repeating a single design".

The passionate artist has also created special rangolis for around 35 teleserials, and was featured in an episode of 'OMG! Yeh Mera India' on HistoryTV18 channel, but Rahul Gandhi's is the biggest portrait rangoli he has done so far.

Swami's has created rangolis starting from just 2 sq ft to a whopping 65,000 sq ft, the latter in Palitana, Gujarat, for the Jain community temples there.



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Title: Rahul Gandhi celebrates Children's Day, greeted with giant 'rangoli'

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