Special Report:  Kumbha Mela 2001

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Jan 22, 2001 Life Goes On - photos by Tony Fernandes

Some new photos of life as-it-happens at the Kumbha Mela. Holy men hold meetings, Wood and food are distributed. Pilgrims continue to bathe in the Ganga river, and pilgrims from the West tell their stories of why they are here. The most auspicious bathing day, Mauni Amavasya, is coming up on January 24 when the largest number of people is expected to attend.
 


Jan 20, 2001
Tourism, Religion, Politics and the Media at the Kumbh Mela. - Tony Fernandes
The International tour operator Cox & Kings (C&K) has found itself in the middle of major controversy here at the Kumbh Mela. Influential maha-mandeleshwars who run well known akaharas here decided some time ago that C & K had broken many of the rules which groups pitching tents within the mela area are supposed to abide by.  Read more...
Jan 19, 2001 The Kumbh Mela Today Ė A Festival for all - Tony Fernandes
There used to be a time when the sandbanks of the Ganga here in Allahabad were made available free to groups and congregations to set up camp. Not anymore. Today, the government controls the land and allocation of plots is done in the best Indian tradition, by prioritizing the powerful and influential at the expense of the weak and voiceless.  Read more...
Jan 16, 2001 Jai Maa Gange! - Reprinted from The Kumbha Mela Times
By 3AM an undercurrent of sound rumbles down the river from the sangam. The sun officially entered Capricorn in the wee hours of the morning, and the ritual bath began. Itís makara sankranti, one of the most auspicious days for ritual bathing. The akhadas (orders of swamis) parade from their compounds on the mela grounds to the sangam to bathe.  Read more...
Jan. 15, 2001 The 2nd auspicious bathing day, Jan. 14, 2001 - Tony Fernandes

I think there were between 4.5 to 5 million pilgrims having their snan on the 14th and NOT 7 million as the authorities and the papers will have us believe. A lot is perhaps due to the over-reaction of the mela administration to what they thought the numbers would be. They are partly responsible for creating fear among pilgrims who have not come. The weather is much better now, perhaps getting no lower than 10į Centigrade in the nights. The daytime temperature is great.
Jan. 13, 2001
Nude dip lands two foreign ladies in custody
From The Northern India Patrika, Allahabadís English language daily newspaper.
ALLAHABAD: Paush Poornima bathers were mildly amused and taken aback when two foreign women, after stripping, jumped into the Sangam in full view of thousands of pilgrims. As soon as the Mahila police got information, they rushed to the spot and arrested both the foreign women, taking them to the Mahila police station.
When they were asked why they took off their clothes, pat came the reply: "If the Naga sages of India can take a dip in the nude, why canít we?" Nudity may be better than a thousand social statuses as the poet E.E. Cummings put it, but sages are sages and different from the common folk.
 
The women, it appears, caked themselves with mud and sand, but the Mahila police would have nothing of it and forced them to wear clothes before freeing them.

Jan. 12, 2001 Photos from January 12, 2001 - Tony Fernandes

All of these photographs were taken between 11am and 4.30pm on 12th January. Two days to Makar Sankranti when seven million are expected to be here for their snan (dip in the ganga). Five million were expected on 9th January, but 2.5 million turned up. The bitter cold and fear of being overwhelmed by sheer numbers is perhaps a reason why the projections are failing to match reality. Letís see what happens in the next two days. Stay tuned.
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Jan 10, 2001 Photos from the first day - Tony Fernandes
Life goes on while people crowd the roads in rickshaws, jeeps, buses and on foot to get to the Sangam (Holy confluence) in time for the first sacred bathing day of the mela on January 9th, Paush Purnima. Nearly 2 million people entered the Ganga and Yamuna rivers to receive blessings.

Jan 9, 2001 Introduction - Tony Fernandes









Hello readers. Apologies for the delay in getting news stories posted from the mela. The servers (or to be more accurate, the server Ė I am told there is only one serving Allahabad) was down. Patience is something India specializes in teaching us.

The Kumbh Mela is indeed a very significant event. I usually try to steer away from superlatives, but, Well! This is different.  Read more...


Jan 8, 2001 Kumbha Mela Begins Tomorrow - Tony Fernandes
Our correspondent, Tony Fernandes has safely arrived in Allahabad and has sent us his first brief report:

Arrived last night in Allahabad. Just depended on God to sort out a place for me. I ended up having dinner with the Catholic Bishop of Allahabad and a number of priests and Nuns. The diocese covers half of Utter Pradesh. HQ is Allahabad. They put me up last night with all the amenities. Today a kind father arranged a place to act as my base where I can keep all the expensive equipment and connect to electricity.

The crowds are pouring in for the the first big day which is tomorrow. People piled high on horse carriages and rickshaws. Sadhus by the hundreds. The prices are rocketing and Allahabad is beginning to swell from a little over a million to who knows what.


 
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