A Gathering of Millions!
The Kumbh Mela is the biggest of all religious events that are held across the globe! This January is special, for the Ardh Kumbh Mela is being held at Allahabad (read Prayagraj) after six years!
The Uttar Pradesh state government has estimated that nearly 150 million devotees will be taking part in the event that will span over a period of 49 days. The 15th of January marks a watershed as countless people thronged to take the first holy dip at the ‘sangam’—in other words, the confluence of the three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati which remains invisible!
Chaos of Colors!
Spread over an area of almost 3,200 hectares, the Kumbh Mela is one of the most efficient portrayals of the riot of colors that characterize Indian culture.
When you think of the fact that a single football field is just about a hectare in size, you will be easily able to conceive of the gigantic stature that a fair attains when it is spread over 3,200 football fields!
The government has, supposedly, spent around INR 2,800 crores on the Mela which will be attended by representatives from 192 countries.
The Kumbh will also be held in places like Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik apart from Allahabad. For the believers, a dip in the holy waters of the ‘sangam’ during this period cleanses them of all evil; it is also said to release them from the eternal cycle of birth and death.
Sadhus, saints, and holy men populate the fairgrounds, along with spectators, to experience the distinct pulse of life that can be found almost nowhere else!
Measures for Safety
About 20,000 police personnel and guards have been deployed at the venue apart from other forces to keep the event from spiraling out into a chaos. More than 2,000 medical personnel have been engaged to ensure that emergency situations can be handled efficiently. When it comes to transport, the state government has issued instructions to more than 5,000 state buses to ferry pilgrims to the venue. The chief minister of the state, Yogi Adityanath, has set up Prayagraj Mela Development Authority as an office to look after all kinds of issues relating to the occasion.
Most of the sadhus taking part in the Kumbh belong to one of the 13 akharas that have taken part in this year’s fair. Each of them has been allotted time slots for performing various rituals that characterize their worship. Their ceremonies become the focal point for hundreds and thousands of visitors who gather at the venue to experience the event.
Reflection of Culture
Arrangements have been made to accommodate the vast number of people who will be visiting the Kumbh till the time of the Mahashivratri, tentatively around the 4th of March. Tents are up for rent with various categories catering to people from the middle classes to the upper classes.
The vibrant display of color and culture in the days of Kumbh is something that people all over the world desire to experience. There are many NRIs who decide to come over to India at this time of the year to take part in the festivities. It remains to be seen how the Ardh Kumbh Mela unfolds this time.
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