Prayagraj: The city of Prayagraj, also known as Allahabad, is preparing for the Mahakumbh, the largest religious gathering in the world, which will take place after 15 months in January 2025. The Mahakumbh is a Hindu festival that occurs once every 12 years at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. It is believed that taking a dip in the sacred waters during this time washes away one’s sins and grants salvation.
Around 40 crore devotees are expected to attend the Mahakumbh 2025, which will start on January 13 and continue till February 26. To accommodate such a huge crowd, the authorities are planning to increase the facilities by about 25 percent compared to the 2019 Kumbh, which was attended by about 24 crore people.
The Prayagraj Mela Development Authority (PMDA), which is responsible for organizing and managing the Mahakumbh, held its 15th board meeting on September 30, 2023. The board meeting was chaired by Prayagraj Commissioner Vijay Vishwas Pant and attended by Mahakumbh Mela Officer Vijay Kiran Anand and other senior officials of various departments.
In the meeting, several important proposals regarding the Mahakumbh were approved. Some of them are:
- The area of the Mahakumbh Mela will be expanded from 3200 hectares in 2019 to 4000 hectares in 2025. This will provide more space for the devotees to stay and perform rituals.
- The number of pontoon bridges on the river Ganga will be increased from 22 in 2019 to 30 in 2025. This will facilitate the movement of the devotees across the river and reduce congestion.
- A Ganga pandal with a capacity of 25 thousand devotees will be built near the confluence. This will serve as a venue for cultural and spiritual programs and also provide accommodation for 10 thousand beds.
- To realize the vision of Harit Mahakumbh, or Green Mahakumbh, one and a half lakh trees will be planted in the Mela area. This will enhance the environmental beauty and also spread the message of environmental protection among the devotees.
- To ensure cleanliness and hygiene in the Mahakumbh Mela, about 1.5 lakh toilets will be built in the Mela area. More than 10 thousand sanitation workers and 800 sanitation gangs will also be deployed. More than 25 thousand dustbins will be kept in the Mela area for waste disposal. The cleanliness system will also be monitored through ICT based system.
The proposals approved by the PMDA board will be sent to the UP government for further approval. The final decision on these proposals will be taken by the apex committee headed by the Chief Secretary.
The Mahakumbh 2025 will have seven major bathing festivals
The Mahakumbh 2025 will start with the first bathing festival of Paush Purnima on January 13 and end with the last bathing festival of Mahashivratri on February 26. The duration of the Mahakumbh will be 45 days, which is shorter than the previous Kumbh in 2019, which lasted for 55 days.
The most important events of the Mahakumbh are the three royal baths or Shahi Snans when thousands of ascetics or sadhus belonging to various sects or akharas take a dip in the river in a grand procession. The three royal baths will take place on Makar Sankranti on January 14/15, Mauni Amavasya on January 29, and Basant Panchami on February 3.
The other four bathing festivals are Achala Saptami on February 5, Kalpavas Samapan on Maghi Purnima on February 12, and Bhishma Ekadashi on February 23. These bathing festivals are based on auspicious dates according to the Hindu calendar.
The Mahakumbh is considered to be one of the most sacred and ancient festivals of Hinduism. It is said that it originated from a mythological event when gods and demons fought over a pot of nectar or amrit that would grant immortality. During this fight, some drops of nectar fell at four places: Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. These four places host the Kumbh Mela in rotation every three years.
The Yogi government is serious about the preparations for Mahakumbh
The Yogi Adityanath-led government of Uttar Pradesh is serious about making the Mahakumbh a grand success. The Chief Minister himself had instructed to start the preparations for Mahakumbh by holding a meeting in Prayagraj in December 2022. Till now, the Yogi government has approved schemes worth Rs 27 thousand crores for the development and infrastructure of the Mahakumbh. Many of these schemes have already started and the target is to complete all the construction work by October 2024. The works of Mahakumbh are also being monitored from the government level.