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Kumbh Mela, celebrated on the banks of river Godavari in Nasik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar, and at the Sangam of Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Allahabad, is the world’s largest peaceful meeting or gathering. The world’s most massive gathering of religious pilgrims in the world, the festival is celebrated in these four locations because medieval Hinduism says that drops of Amrita, which is the drink of immortality, were spilled by Lord Vishnu in these places while carrying it in a kumbha (pot). While the Kumbh mela is held once every six years, once every 12 years the Maha Kumbh is held.
The long wait being over, Allahabad is decked up for Kumbh mela. Bundles of necessary items perched on top if their heads, lakhs of pilgrims moved forward for their first ‘Shahi snan’ (royal bath). Early on Tuesday morning, several sadhus of 13 Akharas went for the holy dip. It is expected that more than 12 million pilgrims will take the royal bath at the confluence of Yamuna, Ganga and the vanished Saraswati. Those who take the dip believe that it cleanses their soul and body and makes them free from the cycle of life and death.
The state government says that with more than 150 million people in the mela, it is infact more than Russia’s population, and the geographical area of the mela is bigger than Vatican City, Monaco, Nauru and Tuvalu. Enhancing the beauty and symmetry of the mela, thousands of colourful tents have been put up.
Sadhus on Monday, January 14, put up temporary ashrams, posed for photographs and blessed devotees. Several stalls have been put up, selling pocket scents to Pooja items like rudrakhs, shivlings and rare flowers, reported The Times of India.
A special corridor has been created for the akharas by the mela police, where a ritual called ‘jal kreeda’ (playing in water) will be performed by naga sadhus.
“The government’s efforts are showing results as Ganga does not have any tributary after the Narora dam, whereas Yamuna gets water from big rivers like Chambal and Betwa,” said SS Ojha, faculty member at Allahabad University’s geography department.
Being spread over an unimaginably large area, it is only natural that children may get lost in the mela. To bring a solution to that, 40,000 radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will be used by the police to track lost children. RFID is a kind of wireless communication can uniquely identify a person and an object through electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling. In the Kumbh area, as many as 15 digital lost-and-found centres have been put up.
LEDs have also been set up for display of information. Apart from this, other facilities will include an intra-district route division and an integrated system for traffic management. There will also be an intelligent traffic management system and crowd analytics. For information dissemination, warnings, traffic advice, route guidance and emergency messages, police have also put up variable message display boards, reported NDTV.
The 2019 Kumbh Mela is estimated to witness a record footfall of around 12 crore pilgrims, according to the prediction by the Urban Development Ministry.
However, the huge amount of waste left behind by the attendees every year has drawn controversy time and again, with questions raised about the shoddy management. But this time, the state government has decided to take a serious stance against pollution and mismanagement. Presently, the ‘Swachh Kumbh-2019’ scheme is being implemented under strict supervision to ensure the best Kumbh Mela experience in history. One of the initiatives which deserve a lot of appreciation includes the employment of 11,400 sanitary workers, reports The Times Of India. In addition, the Prayagraj Mela Authority is resorting to innovative technology like garbage compactors and trash disposal vehicles that can be monitored by GPS.
The venue for this 49-day long religious congregation is 3200 hectares wide, which has been divided into 20 sectors for better management. Mela Adhikari 2019 Rajeev Rai said that the 20 sectors would be linked by a 250 km road. Every day, divided into 950 teams, the 11,400 sanitary workers would make sure that these roads remain spick-and-span. The workers would also regularly clean the offices, camps, ghats and public utilities including the toilets. Reportedly, over 1 lakh makeshift toilets have been being installed at the event venue.
For the first time, the Mela authorities are introducing over 20,000 liner bag dustbins instead of large garbage cans, as these trash bags ensure hassle-free cleaning and instant reuse.
Palpably catching marketers’ interests, near about 100 brands will participate in the mega event this year. The brands include Air India, SpiceJet and IndiGo, mobile handset makers, banks and Welspun, which is a first-time Kumbh advertiser.
For instance, three crore Vedshakti toothpastes will be distributed by Colgate at the mela. On the other hand, Welspun’s QUIK DRY range will be launched. In an attempt to generate a buzz and engage a minimum of five lakh consumers, geo-targeted invites will be sent to pilgrims by the company. An app created by Reliance Jio will feature campaigns of partner brands, including a call to action, reported Financial Express.
The Crayons Network is in a tie-up with HUL, Patanjali, Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo and the central government. Impact Communications, which has been in association with the mela for two decades, has tied up with Dabur, Ghari detergent, Welspun and Godrej Consumer Care and many other brands.
The effort to make the massive event a success is worth being appreciated, but more important are the safety measures that the police have taken. An event can be successful only if the safely of the visitors is ensured. Spread over such a huge area, children being lost, traffic being out of control, are common issues, and have also happened previously. The measures taken to keep everything under control in Kumbh Mela 2019 is a positive step towards making the age-old mega event an even better experience.
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