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Monday, September 3, 2012

Govt. should not commercialise 'Kumbh Mela' - it is sacred.


In this holy land, there are lot of things which are considered sacred – Besides Temples, there are Mountains, Rivers, Places, Events – which are considered sacred.

Sure, you know of ‘Kumbh Mela’ – a grand pilgrimmage for Hindus when lakhs gather at Holy Ganges, when bathing is considered purificatory.  Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in 12 years, at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years, is held at Allahabad.  According to the Mela Administration's estimates, around 70 million people participated in the 45-day Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, in 2007.  This is not a recent phenomenon and references have been found in the  accounts of Chinese traveler, Huan Tsang or Xuanzang (602 - 664 A.D.) who visited India in 629 -645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana.  Mythologically, the Samudra manthan episode (Churning of the ocean of milk), is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana and in our Great Epics too.

It is the power of faith that can part a river, move mountains, and endure the hardships that come bundled up for being an integral part of Kumbh Mela, a congregation of millions, gathered together at the venue to have bath in the river considered as most sacred to the devout.  It is described that as conch shells and cymbals sound, the first flower-decked palanquin, bearing the leader of Maha Nirvana sect,  would move towards the river bank.  Alongside marched a troop of elephants, trumpeting,  sadhus covered with garlands would follow  other ancient Hindu sects.

The next Maha Kumbh Mela is set to be held in the city of Allahabad (Prayag) in the year 2013.  The last time, in 2001, when the Maha Kumbh Mela was held here, nearly 60 million took a bath at Sangam, plus thousands others bore witness to the grandness of the event. After 12 long years, the wait is finally over as the Maha Kumbh is once again back to where it belongs – Allahabad.  Legend ascribes purity to this place as after creating the world, Brahma, the great creator offered his first sacrifice at this place; and also because of the important position it holds for possessing the holy confluence, known as Triveni Sangam, of the three sacred rivers of India - Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati.

In 2013, from 27th January to 25th February, the banks of the Sangam will once again be in an uproar as millions - devout and commoners alike will make the place their temporary homes. It’s believed that bathing here will free one from all the past sins, thereby liberating him from the cycle of life and death. Discomfort of having to travel miles and living open air under freezing weather will take a backseat and it’s the pure sense of devotion and spirituality that will prevail, evident through their faces.

It is only expected that Govt mechanism becomes the regulator and administrator as far as controlling crowds, setting up medical facilities for the visitors and having a ground plan for any contingencies are concerned…….. but the over-zealous Govts try to cash every opportunity that Hinduism provides..   It is reported that a controversial plan to sell media rights to the world's biggest religious festival in India has been put on hold, after opposition from Hindu leaders.  Still, Govt officials are quoted as sating that their proposal for the Kumbh Mela festival has not been formally dropped either.

It is a religious festival, a congregation of the believers – the Govt is to provide amenity – from security to sanitation – those who visit any such place know how well both are provided for…….  But they are quick to try to commercialise and ensure that politicians make enough money at every such instance.  Hindu saints rightfully claim that  Kumbh Mela belongs to them, and no decision can be taken without prior consultations.

For sure, commercializing the festival would be too offensive.  In May Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Javed Usmani sent a letter instructing the local administration to "generate revenue by auctioning advertising and telecast rights" to the event. Sad, Govt tries to nose into everything disrespecting and disregarding the sentiments of the Hindus

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
3rd Sept 2012.

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