The Kumbh Mela is witnessing massive commercialization with the decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to sell the festival’s TV rights to big corporates. The idea is believed to have sought inspiration from the IPL (Indian Premier League) matches which generate huge revenue for their organizers. This year in May, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani sent a letter instructing the local administration to ‘generate revenue by auctioning advertising and telecast rights’ of the mega festival which would see participation of more than 70 million people.
The auctioning of the TV rights to a specific company will lead to the infringement of a pilgrim’s freedom and discretion to capture the divine moments in his or her camera. The attendee would have to pay a heavy charge to the company owning the media rights. This would certainly lead to disappointment and unrest among the participants who would want to capture the memories of the sacred festival. Additionally, the small local news channels would be debarred from telecasting the events of the Mela to its viewers. The decision is bound to impact the lives of the countless participants of the Kumbh Mela at an individual and spiritual level.
Kumbh Mela TV Rights
What is harm in monetizing the Kumbh festival?
The strongest argument against the commercialisation of Kumbh Mela is the fear that it would tarnish the sanctity of the festival. Since Vedic times, people have regarded the festival activities as sacrosanct with God as its pivot. The festival observes the participation of Saints who come from Himalayan caves and other remote parts of the country to bless all the devotees. Monetization of the festival would be seen as an act of disrespect to Vedic tradition and spirituality.
The contemporary government, in their race to hoard money by different kinds of taxation, have lost the faith of the citizens and commercialisation of the festival would bolster their antagonism in the political authorities. Indian history should serve as an example for the current government to stop exploiting Indian culture and the beliefs of Indian to satisfy their vested interests. Various episodes in Indian history such that of King Harshavardana, who lavishly distributed all of his accumulated wealth to the needy and downtrodden such that he returned to his palace in clothes borrowed from his sister, should be looked upon to govern a country in the interest of the people. The story exemplifies the code of conduct of a good ruler which could be aped to safeguard the economic and religious interests of the citizens. Thus religious congregations and pilgrimages like Kumbh Mela should be kept out of the revenue generating compass of the government to preserve the sanctity of the event.
Protest by Saints
The saints from all over the country have come together to oppose the move of Uttar Pradesh government to carry out the new media rights policy enabling auction of exclusive broadcast rights. These saints are worthy of appreciation as they revolted the government’s decision which could have barred enthused shutterbugs from capturing a life time divine experience.