With Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajan "Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram" playing in the background, hundreds of people thronged the memorial to the Father of the Nation in New Delhi on Thursday to commemorate his 139th birth anniversary.
President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial at Rajghat.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defence Minister AK Antony and Leader of Opposition LK Advani were among other who paid floral tributes.
Representatives of nine religions - Buddhism, Baha'i, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Sikhism - took part in a prayer meeting at Rajghat.
Hundreds of people queued up in front of the memorial to offer their homage, braving the stringent three rounds of security checks and the hot sun. Many school children also took time out to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation.
“I come here every year with my grandfather to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi," said 12-year-old Shivalika.
Several organisations like Gandhi Smriti and Gandhi Museum have organised special exhibitions on Mahatma Gandhi to create awareness among youngsters about his teachings and his role in helping India gain Independence.
To protest against communal violence and increasing attacks on Christians across the nation, a Peace March is being organised from Jantar Mantar to Rajghat. Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary is also observed as the International Day of Non-Violence.
“In the present scenario when innocents are being killed in communal violence and terror attacks, there is an immediate need to spread Mahatma Gandhi's message of peace, communal harmony and non violence,” Father Dominic Emanuel, convenor of the march, said.