Schedule for Kumbh Mela announced, to be held over 50 days
At least 150 million devotees and tourists are expected to attend the Kumbh Mela, which is among the 13 elements from India on UNESCO’s list of ‘intangible heritage’.
The dates for the major bathing days when millions will take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganga during the 50-day Kumbh Mela in January next year in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad has been announced.
The Prayagraj Mela Pradhikaran, a committee formed by the state government for managing the annual Magh, Ardh Kumbh and Kumbh Melas, said the religious gathering will start from January 14, 2019, with the first official bathing of Makar Sankranti and conclude with the last official bathing of Maha Shivratri on March 4.
The dates were decided during a meeting of district administration officials chaired by Allahabad divisional commissioner Ashish Goel.
The other official bathing days in the mega religious fair include bathing of Paush Purnima on January 21, Mauni Amavasya on February 4, Basant Panchami on February 10 and Maghi Purnima on February 19.
Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), an apex body of Hindu saints, was up in arms for not being involved in the process of finalising the schedule. Its president Swami Narendra Giri said the finalisation of the Kumbh schedule without the Parishad’s consent was unfortunate.
“Traditionally, we are a part of the process of finalising dates. But this time we were sidelined which is very unfortunate. The issue will be brought to the notice of chief minister Yogi Adityanath. If the Kumbh administration continues to ignore us, saints of the Parishad will boycott Kumbh 2019,” he said.
Preparations are underway for the Kumbh mela for which Rs 2,500 crore has been allocated by the Union and state governments. The Union tourism ministry is organising road shows and participating in events especially in European countries to raise awareness about the mega religious fair overseas.
At least 150 million devotees and tourists are expected to attend the Kumbh Mela, which is among the 13 elements from India on UNESCO’s list of “intangible heritage”.
The festival has its origins in Hindu mythology which says Lord Vishnu wrested a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality from demons. Four drops fell on the four locations across India, in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik in a 12-day fight for possession.
The Kumbh Mela is held at one of these spots every six years, with the festival at Allahabad the holiest of them all.