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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kumbh 2010 - Reporting from Haridwar India

I started my Journey for my third Kumbh from Delhi on April tenth at 11.00 PM. The Delhi Haridwar highway was packed and our coach took an alternate less traveled route to our destination. We went via Bijnor and reached Haridwar at 6 AM the next day. The whole night was spent in the coach; naturally I didn’t sleep a wink.

The coach driver deposited us at a sprawling makeshift parking and it took me a while to figure out the coordinates of the Ashram where I was to stay. I however reached it without any problem and was shown the place where I would stay for the next four days.

To reduce overcrowding in the city, the state government has established a temporary township on the sandy shores of river Ganges. There are two main arterial roads and the whole township is set up on both sides of these. The township is constructed mainly from tents, tin sheets and natural biodegradable materials. The real estate has been parceled out into plots of various sizes. These have been given to religious organizations depending upon their requirements. Each plot of land has four or more water faucets and a septic tank dug in the ground. The human waste and the waste water get soaked up there. Each plot also has an electric connection and an electric meter pre-installed.

The streets have makeshift toilets every two hundred yards and water points every hundred yards. Drinking water is available 24X7, and so is electricity.

A typical dwelling place is the sandy floor covered liberally with hay. On top of that goes a thick cotton rug. On the cotton rug go the mattress and a bed sheet. Everyone sleeps on the floor.

Every organization connected to Hinduism is represented here. The smaller ones like my Ashram have accommodation for about 150 people or less. Bigger ones have several acres and contain an expansive mini township within their precinct.

There are some special institutions which provide free meals five times a day. From morning tea to breakfast, lunch, evening tea and dinner, everything is free and unconditionally given to anyone who wants it. People sit on the ground in neat lines and are served by volunteers.

The general atmosphere is of fervor, devotion and piety. There is an air of festivity too which permeates the length and breadth of this unique event.

The Fair is also a microcosm of this great and ancient country called India. People have traveled from its every nook and corner. I have people from Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh staying in my tent. It is great fun to talk to them and really know what is going on in other parts of India. I love south Indians. They are extremely intelligent, unostentatious and polite. They are also very gentle.

To be continued.. . . . .

Rajiv Sethi


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