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Kumbh Mela: Millions Gather In India For World's Largest Religious Event

For this year’s Kumbh, the government shelled out an estimated 4.3 billion rupees (US$650 million), hoping to impress India’s largely Hindu population.

One of the largest religious gatherings in the world – the Kumbh Mela – will be this time spread over an area of 45 km from the earlier 20 km radius. Pilgrims visiting the holy city will also get a glimpse of Akshay Vat, a Banyan Tree held sacred by Hindus, and Saraswati Koop, a well believed to be the source of the mythical Saraswati River.

Prayagraj Mayor Abhilasha Gupta Nandi told PTI, “The area of the Kumbh Mela has almost doubled this time. Earlier, the Kumbh Mela used to be spread over an area of of 15-20 km. Now, the mela is spread over an area of 45 km.”

Elaborating on the importance of Akshay Vat, the mayor said, “Akshay Vat is found only in four places across the country, and at these places the Kumbh is held. According to folklore, the tree, which is inside the Allahabad Fort (under Army control) has the power to fulfil wishes.”

She added that a new road leading to the tree is being built to facilitate pilgrims.

“According to legend, sage Markandeya once asked Lord Narayan to give him a glimpse of divine power. Narayan flooded the entire world for a moment, during which only the Akshay Vat at Prayagraj could be seen above water level,” she said.

Saraswati Koop is also located inside the Allahabad Fort. “An idol of Goddess Saraswati is being installed,” she said.

According to UP government officials, it is for the first time that devotees will be arriving in the city through land, air and water routes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the city earlier this month, said devotees will be able to offer prayers at Akhsay Vat, which has been closed for years, during Ardha Kumbh.

“I am here to give you good news. This time, devotees will be able to visit Akshay Vat in Ardha Kumbh,” the prime minister had said.

For the first time, an Integrated Control Command and Centre has been established in the Kumbh area.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had recently said that it is the endeavour of the government that the Kumbh turns out to be darshaniye (worth seeing), adbhut (amazing), divya (divine) and bhavya (grand).

“Kumbh will prove to be a confluence of our age-old traditions and culture with modernity and technology. It will be a New India and New Kumbh,” Adityanath had said.

“After former President Rajendra Prasad, it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who visited Akshay Vat and Saraswati Koop. Ambassadors from nearly 70 countries had also visited Prayagraj to get a glimpse of the preparations for the mega event,” Adityanath had said.

Yesterday, while addressing the Yuva Kumbh held in Lucknow, Adityanath had said, “Kumbh is a symbol of India’s unity and integrity, and its spirit is that youth power should be used for nation building. The state government will make efforts to provide all possible facilities to pilgrims at the Kumbh. The state government will also establish grand statues of Bharadwaj muni and Goddess Saraswati in Prayagraj.”

The Mela draws lakhs of pilgrims over the course of approximately 55 auspicious days to bathe at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati.

Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years.

The geographical location of Kumbh Mela covers four locations in India with the mela site rotating from Haridwar (Uttarakhand) on the Ganga, Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) on Shipra, Nashik (Maharashtra) on Godavari to Prayagraj at the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati.

Source: The Indian EXPRESS

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