“Kumbh mele mein bichare hue bhai (Brothers separated at Kumbh mela),” said one friend to another. Bollywood, almost romantically, has made the above line a familiar one. It has become a colloquial catchphrase among Indians to express a strong bond of friendship.
Organised every 12 years, Maha Kumbh Mela is known for crores of people coming together to take a bath in the holy river Ganga in Allahabad, current Prayagraj. The Maha Kumbh is also infamous for a tremendous number of missing children and the elderly.
Leaving the elderly behind
While Kumbh mela has a notorious reputation of “lost children”, it is also found that some people take advantage of the swelling crowd and deliberately leave their elderly relatives to get rid of them. While both men and women are abandoned in the mela, reportedly, it is the elderly widows who are considered burdens are mostly left alone.
While to a foreigner it might seem strange that an elderly person cannot find his/her way back home, it is a common occurrence in our country. Most of these people are uneducated and do not know the name of the district or village they stay in. They are heavily dependent on their younger counterparts to help them navigate through the crowd of colourful families.
Like many others, Munna has come to the Kumbh mela with his father. Hesitant at first but determined too, he lets his father into a crowded part of the mela. Although his father is holding his hand, at one point, he lets his hand free, leaving his unsuspecting father lost in the sea of unknown faces.
That is when he sees a similar story playing out in front of his eyes. He sees a father tying his hand with his son’s so that the latter does not get lost. Overcome with guilt, he goes back in search of his father.
Never let go of the hand that nurtured you
How would a parent or a grandparent feel when they get to know that they have been left in Kumbh mela intentionally? Pushed around in the crowd and consumed by fear imagine how helpless they would feel searching desperately for the only faces that they know. How can we abandon the very people who we are perpetually indebted to?
We get frustrated when we have to teach our parents or grandparents how to use a mobile phone, but we forget that they taught us how to hold a spoon. They have fed us, fend for us, clean us, worry about us when we come home late. They have spent sleepless nights when we were unwell. Holding their finger, we took our first step. Hearing their words, we learnt how to speak.
Taking the cognisance of the issue that many elderly are abandoned during Kumbh Mela, Brooke Bond Red Label gives out a message of #ApnoKoApnao through the video to never let go of the hands that made us who we are. Just like their hands nurtured our bruises and their sweet songs lulled us to sleep, we should try to repay the debt. We cannot let them go in their years of vulnerability.