As the first Shahi Snan (auspicious bath) of the 2019 Kumbh Mela got underway on Tuesday, a UP Cabinet minister said that the religious congregation is being held in Prayagraj after 350 years as the holy city was renamed Allahabad in the past. Religious Affairs Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary also claimed that it’s perhaps for the first time since Independence that proper arrangements (of milk, ghee, food, blankets and firewood) have been made for the seers, ashrams and akharas.
Nearly 350 years ago, the name of Prayagraj which is considered a prominent centre of Hindu culture and Sanatan Dharma was changed to Allahabad. However, last year, under the leadership of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, it was decided that Allahabad should be renamed as Prayagraj, as mentioned in the ancient Indian texts including the Vedas. And it is after 350 long years that the world’s biggest spiritual congregation is being held in Prayagraj in the form of Kumbh Mela, he added.
On October 16, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet had approved a proposal to rename the historic city of Allahabad as Prayagraj. UP Cabinet minister Siddhartha Nath Singh had then said that it will help highlight Indian culture at international level. Elaborating on the Kumbh Mela, Chaudhary said, Kumbh symbolises peace and harmony amongst all human beings. Thanks to the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Kumbh Mela has been inscribed on the list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO in 2017. He further added that Kumbh also signifies the coming together of people from various cultures from across the world and it is a spectacle that is the largest peaceful congregation of humanity.
The UP minister said that It is an avismarniye (unforgettable) Kumbh. It is for the first time that representatives of 172 countries will participate in the Kumbh Mela. This time, the Kumbh Mela is spread over an area of 3,200 hectares as compared to 1,600 hectare area in the previous melas. Apart from being a Divya Kumbh, Bhavya Kumbh (divine Kumbh, grand Kumbh), this Kumbh Mela would also be remembered as Swachh Kumbh (clean Kumbh), as more than 11,000 safai wokers have been pressed into action. For maintaining cleanliness and hygiene and to host an open-defecation-free Kumbh, more than one lakh toilets have been planned to be deployed. Solid waste is to be collected in 20,000 dustbins that are to be deployed and will be transported out of the Mela area by tippers and compactors.
Apart from this, Over 1,000 CCTV cameras and 40,000 LED lights have been installed in the Mela area and more than 2,000 Ganga Praharis/ Swacchagrahis are being engaged as foot soldiers. The minister also informed that it is for the first time that Akshay Vat and Saraswati Koop have been opened for the public after centuries. According to folklore, the Akshay Vat tree inside the Allahabad Fort near Sangam has the power to fulfil wishes, while the Saraswati Koop, also located in the fort premises, is a well in which one can see waters of the mythical Saraswati River.
For the first time, an Integrated Control and Command Centre has been established in the Kumbh area and for the very first time Kumbh Mela will also witness the use of artificial intelligence for better crowd management this year.