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Mohandas K. Gandhi's Ashes to Be Sprinkled Over Arabian Sea

Sixty years after he was assassinated, some of peace icon Mohandas K. Gandhi's ashes will be scattered in the Arabian Sea at the family's request and not publicly displayed, a museum trustee said Tuesday.

A small steel urn of Gandhi's ashes — one of dozens dispersed across the country after his death — was sent to a Gandhi museum in Mumbai last year by an Indian businessman whose father, a close friend of Gandhi's, had preserved the ashes.

Trustees had planned to display the nonviolence leader's ashes in a memorial in downtown Mumbai, but Gandhi's descendants requested the ashes be scattered at sea off Mumbai's coast on Jan. 30, the anniversary of his death, said Dhirubhai Mehta, vice president of the Mahatma Gandhi Museum.

Hindus cremate their dead and generally scatter the ashes in rivers or the sea after 13 days.

"We had thought of displaying the ashes, but naturally we will respect the family's wishes," said Mehta. "This is the right thing to do."

Gandhi was shot to death by a Hindu hard-liner in 1948 while walking to a prayer meeting in New Delhi. His ashes were sent to towns and villages across India for countless memorial services.

"No one knows for sure how many such urns there are elsewhere," Mehta said. "The ashes were sent to Gandhi's followers wherever they requested it."

Mehta, who was 11 when Gandhi was killed, remembers taking part in a small ceremony in Songad village in Gujarat, Gandhi's home state.

"Our village was sent an urn because a river ran through it," he said.

Gandhi's relatives and some of his followers have been invited to a small ceremony in Mumbai on Jan. 30 to scatter the ashes, Mehta said.

In 1997, Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, immersed some of Gandhi's ashes at the holy spot where the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers meet. Those ashes had been found in a bank vault in northern India.