World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Gandhi cap

Article Id: WHEBN0007214197
Reproduction Date:

Title: Gandhi cap  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mahatma Gandhi, Indian independence movement, Clothing in India, Hat, Headgear
Collection: Caps, Hats, Indian Clothing, Indian Headgear, Indian Independence Movement, Mahatma Gandhi
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Gandhi cap

Nehru's life, poster from the 1950s, showing him wearing the Gandhi cap during 1929-1955.

The Gandhi cap (Hindi: गांधी टोपी) is a white coloured sidecap, pointed in front and back and having a wide band. It is made out of khadi. It takes its name after the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, who first popularised its use during the Indian independence movement. Worn commonly by Indian independence activists, it became a symbolic tradition for politicians and political activists to wear it in independent India.


  • Genesis 1
  • Post-independence 2
  • Re-emergence of the Gandhi cap 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Rare photograph of Mahatma Gandhi wearing Gandhi Cap in 1920.

The Gandhi cap emerged in India during the First Non-cooperation movement during 1918-1921.[1] when it became the standard Congress dress as popularized by Gandhi. In 1921, the British government tried to ban the use of the Gandhi cap. Gandhi himself wore the cap only for 1–2 years during 1920-21.[2][3]

Gandhi's homespun khadi attire of traditional Indian clothes were symbolic of his message of cultural pride, the use of Swadeshi goods (as opposed to those manufactured in Europe), self-reliance and solidarity with India's rural masses. The cap became common to most followers of Gandhi and members of the Indian National Congress. A connection to the independence movement was implied when any individual wore the cap in those times.

Prisoners in South African prisons classified as "negroes" (a category into which Indians fell while Gandhi was in South Africa) also were required to wear similar caps in prison during 1907 to 1914. Gandhi's close friend Henry Polak cites Gandhi's time in South African jail, where he was classified as a "negro" and thus required to wear such a cap, as the genesis of the Gandhi Cap.[4]

Members of the Indian National Congress marching in New Delhi in 1937.

However Gandhi, in a letter to Kaka Kalelkar, described in detail how he based his white cap on the Kashmiri cap.[5]


The first generation of post-independence Indian politicians were almost universally members of the freedom struggle. Gandhi's death in 1948 gave an emotional importance to the Gandhi cap, which was regularly worn by Indian leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister. Succeeding prime minister such as Lal Bahadur Shastri and Morarji Desai would continue the tradition. Most members of the Indian Parliament (especially politicians and activists of the Congress party) wore khadi clothing and the Gandhi cap. Large numbers of people donned the cap when celebrating India's independence on August 15 or the promulgation of a republic on January 26.

Jawarharlal Nehru was always remembered as having worn the cap. In 1964 a coin showing Nehru in profile was released which was widely criticized for lacking the cap. Another Nehru coin was later released in 1989 on his birth centenary, which showed him wearing a cap.

Mumbai Dabbawala wearning caps on daily basis Mumbai, Maharashtra
1000's of people wearing Topi during Wari Dehugaon, Maharashtra

In later times, the cap had lost its popular and political appeal. Although many members of the Congress party continued the tradition, rival political parties preferred to dissociate themselves from the tradition linked with the Congress. The mass acceptance of Western-style clothing had also diminished the importance of wearing Indian-style clothes for politicians.

The cap remains the most popular everyday headgear worn by men in rural parts of Maharashtra.


Anna Hazare protesting against corruption

In famous speech I Have a Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr in 1963, one can see people standing behind him on stage wearing Gandhi Cap.[7]

Re-emergence of the Gandhi cap

In 2011, the Gandhi cap once again rose in popularity in India after Anna Hazare, an eminent Gandhian from Maharashtra, started an anti-corruption movement in India. The epicenter of this movement was in Delhi. In August 2011, thousands of people wearing Gandhi caps accumulated at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi to support Anna Hazare on his fast-unto-death. This movement spilled over to many other parts of the country and stadiums, community centers and grounds were booked for assimilation of a similar nature. The mass movement witnessed people of all age groups, religions and social standings (mainly the Middle Class) as participants, many among them shouting slogans and wearing Gandhi caps.

In the 2014 election, the workers of Aam Aadmi Party widely wore the Gandhi cap with text printed on it.[8][9]BJP supporters wore a similar saffron colored cap.[10]

Arvind Kejriwal in Bangalore on inauguration of Aam Aadmi Party Karnataka

See also


  1. ^ Consumption: The history and regional development of consumption edited by Daniel Miller, p. 424
  2. ^ ગાંધીટોપીઃ મારોય એક જમાનો હતો..., Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi Cap, urvish kothari
  3. ^ Gandhi was photographed wearing a turban or a round black topi in 1915 and 1918. He was photographed with the Gandhi cap in 1920. see 1915-1932 Mahatma Gandhi Photo Gallery Mahatma Gandhi, 1915 - 1920, Page 7 By 1924 he had given up wearing a kurta and the cap. Also see
  4. ^ H.S.L Polak Mahatma Gandhi (London: Odham's Press, 1949) pg. 61
  5. ^ Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India, Emma Tarlo,University of Chicago Press, Sep 1, 1996.82-83
  6. ^ Bhanu, B.V (2004). People of India: Maharashtra, Part 2. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. pp. 1033, 1037, 1039.  
  7. ^
  8. ^ बहुरंगी हुई गांधी की टोपी, Feb 03,2014
  9. ^ How Indias iconic Gandhi cap has changed sides By Andrew Whitehead BBC World Service, 27 April 2014
  10. ^ Gandhi cap changes colours! Sumit Bhattacharjee, April 27, 2014

External links

  • Gandhi cap out of fashion, Mar 27, 2004
  • गांधी टोपी का अब तक का सफर.. Samaylive
  • Indian headdresses
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.