Sunday, February 17, 2019

Kumbha Mela: Not just the largest but the oldest religious practice of the world supported by State.

A recent article in The New York Times lamented about the excellent arrangements made for the Kumbha Mela at Prayagraj as something abominable and done with the aim of catching votes! Even the development of amenities, construction of roads and flyovers and ban on letting out tannery effluents into the Ganga were commented upon by this newspaper as agenda-driven to keep the Hindu vote bank in good humour. While this is nothing but an expression of a sick mind, one accusation needs to be cleared to set the record straight and also to keep the Hindus informed of how this event was managed in the past.

The report has termed this Kumbha Mela as ‘State sponsorship’ of the religion of the Hindus. It ‘justifies’ this criticism by quoting a figure of $600 million as having gone into the making of a number of bridges, roads, flyovers, trashcans, toilets etc for the visiting population. While this is nothing but long term investment benefiting the entire region, what the newspaper had failed to understand is that this event was not just Paraygraj-centric, but is celebrated all over India wherever there are temples. And in all those temples, this event was sponsored by the kings or/ and by the community living around the temple in olden days. Temple inscriptions stand as evidence for ‘State sponsorship’ of this event in those temples.

This event is a yearly affair even now in the temples of Tamilnadu and celebrated on the Full Moon of the month of Kumbha (Aquarius) by the name “Maasi Magham”. Gods themselves are taken out in a procession and given bath in the sea, or river or confluence of rivers or in a nearby tank, in the absence of access to other water bodies. In the very heart of the capital city Chennai, in the temple of Adhipureeswarar in Tiruvottriyur, there stands a pillar inscription on the gift of money....continue reading here