Kumbh Mela 2019: From Washing Your Sins to a Destination on Travel Checklist, Is The Religious Pilgrimage Losing its Face to Tourism?

By | January 13, 2019
Kumbh Mela 2019: From Washing Your Sins to a Destination on Travel Checklist, Is The Religious Pilgrimage Losing its Face to Tourism?

Is Kumbh Mela becoming more touristy than religious? (Photo Credits: Instagram/kumbh.prayag, ashana_gupta)

The Kumbh Mela is a religious event which sees a vast ocean of people coming together for their belief to get rid of all their past sins. The basic premise of gathering at the Kumbh Mela is to take a bath in the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. The main site of Kumbh Mela is located at Haridwar, which is the confluence or the Sangam of the three rivers. Taking place every four years, the Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 will be held in Prayagraj (Allahabad) from the day of Makar Sankranti on January 15 and go on till March 4. A traditional fair recognised all over, Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful gatherings in the world! It is indeed attractive as a tourist to visit and be a part of this festival. With the arrival of tourists only rising year after year a lot has been done at the venue this year. But it is a thing to ponder whether in all of these improvements specifically for tourism, does the traditional essence starts fading?

The mythological significance associated with Kumbh Mela translates it to a ‘fair of the pot of nectar’. The gods and demons fought over a pitcher of immortality nectar. Lord Vishnu disguised as a Mohini or Garuda carried away the pot and it spilt the nectar at four places. The four places are Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag, where the Kumbh Mela takes place. The fight went on for 12 days, which are equivalent to 12 human years. So the fair is organised in the rotations. Thus taking a bath or a dip in these holy waters is considered to eliminate a person of their sins and also attain mental peace. There are many more interesting tales to talk about the event. Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 Shahi Snan Dates: Know The Significance of Main Bathing Dates in Prayagraj.

Welcome to Kumbh 2019

Kumbh Mela is essentially a pilgrimage which sees the presence of Sadhus, saints, spiritual gurus, religious leaders. Naga sages are the spectacled visitors of Kumbh. These bunch of holy, spiritual believers are the ones who make it a point to travel to every venue where the Kumbh Mela is going to take place. Their numbers are in millions and each year it only keeps rising. Their appearance, chanting of mantras, their spreading of ideologies gives a different vibe to Kumbh Mela altogether, something that has to be experienced only by visiting there. The scale of tourists thus is also on the rise. Kumbh Mela 2019: ‘Kinnar Akhara’ to Participate in Ardh Kumbh for First Time.

The Essence of Kumbh Mela

The government has done all that they can, spent hefty money on the development of infrastructure to accommodate the tourists. There are tent cities being emerged, extra train facilities, security systems, accommodation services etc. But all of these are the highlights for the tourists that are coming in. The luxurious tents promising WiFi services, western toilets, pick up and drop to the Sangam, etc are all catering to the needs of the tourists. On an average, a dormitory cost starts close to Rs 1000 and the tent facilities are way above Rs 2,500. But will a Naga sadhu, or a saint ever bother to stay at these facilities? Someone who comes there to seek rejuvenation of the mind in line with their faith, will have no concern about the luxurious beds inside the tents. Those who observe strict worship of Lord Shiva, will not bother about the spread of food items in the common canteens.

The Tent City for Kumbh Mela 2019

All the pilgrims want to seek, is riddance of their sins and achievement of their enlightenment. Wasn’t or isn’t Kumbh Mela supposedly a pilgrimage which sees an ocean of pilgrims, sadhus, sadhvis, sages, religious godmen and the likes? I do not deny the fact that Kumbh Mela is a major tourist attraction. It does have a lot to offer to the tourists too. But not each tourist that steps at the venue will be looking forward to taking a dip or being a part of the holy bath. A lot of them come there to cherish the congregation that takes place. To indulge in the vibe of the atmosphere that seeks spiritual awakening, to get their pictures of people following their faith, to document stories of those who have been strongly tied to their beliefs. But what about those who come here to follow it all?

It is a thing to wonder, whether the largest congregation of religious pilgrims caters to the needs of the pilgrims or is the rising tourism diluting its face. From being on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, Kumbh Mela has also found its place on most travel check-lists, with more and more tourists ticking it off!

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