Being One in and with the Biggest Gathering on Earth

By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

Few days ago, I got the chance to be far away from the hustle and bustle of New Delhi and corporate offices in multitudes of skyscrapers and be part of a centuries old tradition that holds the essence of India and its culture. I am talking about the Kumbh Mela (The Kumbh Fair), this gathering that takes place once every twelve years, or six if you consider the Ardh Kumbh too, is the most important gathering in Hindu religion but this gathering is more about spirituality than religion, it gives you chance to be one with multitudes of souls who have come to search a meaning in their existence.

The first impression that Kumbh creates on your mind is magnitude, it almost feels like a city that has come alive on the banks of the three merging rivers. I really have to commend the state government for sparing no expense for this event, roads were widened, tents sprung across an area of 60 square kilometers, not the official number just an estimate of the scale, to accommodate pilgrims, monks, ashrams, police, hospitals, security, water treatment, electricity substations and what not, it has its own administration but above all the cleanliness. The public toilets we all frown upon were cleaner than the one our homes. With millions of people visiting, there is going to be a massive heap of garbage and waste and authorities made sure it got collected and disposed every other hour. The level of arrangement and planning was mind boggling.

There was one other fact that was quiet obvious in this Kumbh, about 90% of visitors were from rural areas. People from Maharashra, Assam, Bengal, Karnataka and other far off places but most of them were from villages and yet people from cities, if I only talk about Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities, were somehow missing from this event. I saw poverty, I saw hardship but above all I saw faith, people were living under bridges in nail biting cold to take dip in the holy waters in the early hours of auspicious dates. I saw people bathing, living and eating side by side irrespective of caste, creed, language and other social filters we impose on each others. Its truly a spiritual experience that is worth all the trouble.

This is a part of our collective history that is playing out here in Prayagraj, do not miss out, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Note: Photos of Naga Sadhus courtesy Sakshigopal Sahgal 




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