There was a time when pilgrimages were not for comfort-loving travellers. But with the advent of modern transportation and the hospitality industry, seeking salvation has become a much easier mission today, provided you have a decent kitty to enjoy those expensive options. Starting with helicopter services to temples tucked away in the mighty Himalayas and in southern India, e-donations and e-prasad and e-aarti, the salvation journey has become much more comfortable too.
So we were hardly surprised to read that the 2013 edition of the Kumbh Mela will also get a healthy dose of such worldly comforts and pleasures. According to a news report, the 2013 edition of the world famous spiritual jamboree, when at least eight crore people are expected to land up in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, will also have a few hundred Swiss cottages for weary and rich participants. These cottages will be equipped with geysers, toilets and all other amenities that a hotel would usually provide. The snug tents will cost around Rs. 6,000 per night and they would be located barely a few metres from the confluence of three rivers - all that the pilgrims will have to do is walk out of their luxury spaces to take that all-important dip. And therein lies a wonderful, delicious irony: even after paying so much for comfort and exclusivity, the residents of the Swiss tents would still have to take a dip in the same river, along with the same unwashed masses that they are so keen to avoid.
That's not all; the cocooned brigade will miss out on everything that the Kumbh Mela is known for: different kinds of people from all across the world, round-the-clock action and a riot of colour and ideas - some absolutely vague but entertaining nonetheless. The best part is that the mega mela still retains a lot of its old-world charm. It has never been packaged like, for example, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, but it still manages to attract thousands of people from across the world. And missing out on all that fun will be absolutely sacrilegious.