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kumbh mela prepration

Early Preparation for Allahabad Kumbh Mela

Tourism Department facilitates skill development for the festival

UP Tourism, with the help of ‘Manyawar Kanshiram Institute of Tourism Management’ at Lucknow,  has started training service providers on etiquettes, hygiene and  first aid in preparation of this mega festival starting from 27-January-2013. With financial support from central government, the state tourism ministry has started two different sets of capacity building programmes to train the service providers through Service Providers (CBSP) and Hunar Se Rozgar Tak (HSRT) schemes.

Floating Post Offices at Kumbh Mela

The All India Post Service would be available right in the waters. The postal department of Allahabad plans to set up floating post offices at Maha Kumbh 2013 to facilitate the devotees and seers. The plan aims to help the pilgrims stay in touch with the other part of the world and send gifts to their friends and relatives.

Various postal services will be provided to the devotees at the festival site including money orders, speed posts, philately, saving accounts and insurance premiums.  “Every time during the Kumbh Mela, the Indian Post sets up temporary post offices to help postal transactions for the visitors who attend the event in huge numbers. But this time, in addition to the temporary post offices, there would be floating post offices as well,” said Sachin Kishore, director postal services, UP headquarters.

The department plans to provide boats which would take the letters directly from the devotees and later dispatch the same to their respective destinations, he added.

Kumbh Mela says NO to Plastic! Go Green!

To keep the Kumbh Mela site free from plastic litters, a team constituted by the Mela authorities is conducting a mass awareness campaign in different parts of the city.

Post warden, civil defence, Rajendra Tiwari said, “We are organising seminars where we are asking  people to prepare two cotton bags in every household which in turn would be distributed free of cost to pilgrims coming to the Kumbh Mela. Besides cotton bags, the civil defence volunteers would also hand over paper bags to visitors and tourists to keep the Mela area polythene-free.”

This time the festival authorities plan to make the Mela more Eco-friendly.

 November 30 deadline set for festival preparations

Divisional commissioner Divesh Chaturvedi has stated that all work and arrangements for Kumbh Mela must be completed by the concerned authorities by November 30. Additionally, all on-going work should be inspected at least once a week with consequent presentation of its physical report, he said. Chaturvedi instructed the authorities while reviewing the work related to Kumbh at Gandhi gallery.

 

Commercialization of Kumbh Mela

kumbh mela tv rights

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.

Indian Sadhus