On this day the first and only wife of the famous Mahatma Gandhi was born. Her name was Kasturba and she was from the same town as Gandhi – Porbandar on the coast of the Arabian Sea. It is a city in the Indian state of Gujarat, and in the time of Gandhi and Kasturba’s birth was ruled by the Maharaja of Porbandar as an autonomous ruler under British protection.
Interestingly, both Gandhi’s grandfather and father, as well as his uncle, were the chief ministers of Porbandar Maharajas. It was not a negligible political position because the Maharaja’s state encompassed approximately 1,663 square kilometers, with perhaps up to 100,000 inhabitants. These Maharajas were originally the so-called Rajput (alleged descendants of Hindu warriors). In fact, the dynasty that ruled in Porbandar was one of the longest-reigning in India.
Kasturba and Gandhi were married when he was 13 and she 14 years old. Certainly, it was an arranged marriage common in these areas. Recalling that wedding, Gandhi once said that for them, the children-newlyweds, it mainly meant wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives. His newly-wed wife at first spent a lot of time with her parents, which was customary then. However, they were obviously in contact, because their first child was born when Gandhi was only 15 years old. Unfortunately, the child died after only a few days. Later they had four more children, all of them sons.
Important is the fact that Gandhi and Kasturba stayed faithful to their marriage for over 60 years, until her death at the age of 74. Gandhi died less than three years after his wife.