India has kicked off the ‘Ardh’ Kumbh Mela 2019, expected to be the world’s largest religious gathering with over 130 million visitors
The Ardh Kumbh or ‘half’ Kumbh Mela is held every six years at the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati.
This year’s Kumbh Mela is being held at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, promising to be a huge source of tourist revenue for the state
Millions of people have gathered at Prayagraj in the India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh for Kumbh Mela, the country’s iconic Hindu festival that is celebrated every six years, for what is likely the largest religious gathering in the world.
Here are some pictures from the on-going Kumbh Mela 2019-
From 15 January to 4 March, nearly 130-140 million visitors, pilgrims, and foreign tourists will flock to the Ardh Kumbh or ‘half’ Kumbh, held every six years in one of four cities in Northern India.
The fair is a fascinating spectacle and is remarkable for the sheer number of people who gather for weeks at the same place
In 2013, Harvard University made a corporate case study to understand the logistics and economics behind the Maha Kumbh fair
The Kumbh is famous for Hindu saints or saffron-clad ‘Sadhus’ who use the occasion for ritual holy dips in the river Ganga.
This is also the occasion when hundreds of semi-naked, ash-covered holy men known as ‘Naga Sadhus,’ followers of Hindu deity Shiva, are seen during the fest.
The 55-days long event will be spread across 2,500 hectares on the banks of the Ganges and the Yamuna in Prayagraj.
The festival is traditionally held at the ‘confluence’ of the three rivers - Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati.
This year, the theme of the Kumbh is ‘Swacch Kumbh, Surakshit Kumbh,’ which means ‘Clean Kumbh, Safe Kumbh,’ showing the local government’s backing of this festival.
The Uttar Pradesh government has reportedly spent close to ₹40 billion in this year’s fair. The money is aimed at facilitating the millions of visitors with modern facilities.
From setting up 122,000 eco-friendly toilets to five-star tents, a high-tech “khoya-paya kendra” (lost and found), to a network of CCTV artificial intelligence, has reportedly been set up for the mega religious even
The Indian Railways is reportedly ferrying up to 800 special trains during the festival.
The city of Prayagraj has undergone colourful transformation with its walls and trees taking on different hues
The festival is also a boon for local businesses that are expecting to make between ₹50,000 to ₹100,000 each during the festivities. Even individual tradespeople like the over 600 boatsmen, who normally earn ₹400 to ₹500 for their trips, are expected to earn up to ₹1,800.