Those who visited Haridwar one year back will now be wondering to see the new face of the holy city. Wide, clean and pothole free roads, shining bathing ghats, new bridges and general cleanness. This change is visible even before we enter the city from Roorkie or Dehradun. “Haridwar witnessed the biggest ever developmental activities in the last three decades for this Kumbh beginning from January 14. It almost changed the face of the entire city,” said Gulshan Kumar, a travel agent in Haridwar.
“Our endeavour is that no devotee visiting Haridwar during the Kumbh should face any difficulty. Only Rs 50 to 60 crore used to be spent for Kumbh preparations so far. But this time we have spent over Rs 550 crore. The permanent construction work is over and the work at temporary projects too is at the final stage,” said Uttarakhand Chief Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.
According to the government estimates, more than six crore pilgrims are expected to have a dip in this Kumbh. The government has made adequate arrangements for them. Central Cabinet Secretary Shri Chandrasekhar recently visited Haridwar and expressed full satisfaction over the preparedness for Mela by the State government.
Apart from permanent construction, the government has also made some temporary arrangements. Temporary camps have been set-up for about 12 lakh saints, 40,000 officers and other staff members. During the 2004 Kumbh, more than 10 million devotees including saints, priests and yogis from all corners of India as well as the world, had participated.
The total Kumbh area is 130 square kilometres sprawling in Haridwar, Dehradun, Tehri and Pauri revenue districts. Entire Kumbh Mela area has been divided into 12 zones and 32 sectors. These sectors include Bahadrabad, Jwalapur, Ranipur, Kankhal, Daksheshwar Dweep, Sati Dweep, Bairagi Camp, Mayapur, Belwala, Gaurishankar, Chandi Devi, Neeldhara, Chila, Laljiwala, Rodi, Haridwar, Mansa Devi, Har Ki Pauri, Kangra Dweep, Pant Dweep, Bhim Gaura, Moti Chur, Bhopatwala, Sapt Sarowar, Raiwala, Shyampur, Rishikesh, Chandrabhaga, Muni ki Reti, Swargashram, Laxman Jhula and Neelkanth.
Talking to Organiser Mela Officer Shri Anand Vardhan said 31 police stations and 41 police chowkies have been established in the Mela area for maintenance of law and order. Thirty six fire stations have also been established to control any incident of fire. A Central Control Room (CCR) with all modern communication systems has been established for monitoring of devotees inflow to avoid any crowd pressure in the core area round the clock.
According to Shri Anand Vardhan the medical preparedness has been taken-up on priority basis. A total of 4,700 beds have been notified in various hospitals including 1,360 in government hospitals within the Mela area, 400 in private hospitals, 677 in government hospitals out of Mela area and 2,303 in private hospitals out of the Mela area. Deployment of health staff includes 12 class one and senior medical officers, 264 general medical officers, 606 paramedical staff, 192 non-medical staff, 50 ambulances and 14 EMRI ambulances.
Precautions for Swine Flue
A training programme for medical and paramedical personnel to update their knowledge on Swine Flu has already been conducted as per the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry. Identification of Influenza Like Illness (ILI), suspects of swine flue for referral, investigations and management will be done as per the guidelines. SPS hospital, Rishikesh and Civil Hospital of Roorkie have been identified with ICU facilities.
The main and common reason for one to attend the Kumbh is to take dip in the Ganga. It is believed that a dip in the sacred river during the Kumbh takes one out of the circle of life and death. Pilgrims and sadhus in large number visit Haridwar to liberate themselves. There are four main bathing ghats in Haridwar including Har Ki Pauri, Asthi Parwah Ghat, Subhash Ghat and Gau Ghat. Rather it is difficult to count the number of bathing ghats at the Ganga from Rishikesh to Haridwar, as some people have made their own private ghats. The actual number of bathing ghats during this Kumbh will be more than 300. They include 117 ghats in Haridwar and around 200 in Rishikesh. About 80 lakh devotees will be able to have a dip in the Ganga on these ghats. The Mela administration has decided to grant at least 10 minutes to each devotee for the snan. Over 60,000 devotees will be able to have a bath only at the Har Ki Pauri at a time. Total length of the bathing ghats available in the Kumbh is 25 km. It is expected that about one crore devotees will have a bath in the Ganga on the Shahi Snan day i.e., April 14. Hence, the capacity of ghats has been increased accordingly.
Significance of the Kumbh
When the planet Jupiter transits Aquarius and the Sun is in the sign of Aries the Maha Kumbh is held at Haridwar. It is believed that at the time of Kumbh, the water of Ganga is charged with positive healing effects enhanced by electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, the Moon and the Jupiter, the flux of which also varies in accordance to positions and the phases of the Moon, and also by the + and – signs of the Sun spots.
The event is visited by the most amazing saints from all over India. The Naga Sadhus are one such, who never wear any cloth and are smeared in ash. They have long matted hairs and are not at all affected by the extremes of heat and cold. Then there are the Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities. There are the Parivajakas, who have taken a vow of silence and go about tinkling little bells to get people out of their way. The Shirshasins stand all 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads. Spending the entire month of Kumbh on the banks of Ganga, meditating, performing rituals and bathing thrice a day, are the Kalpvasis.
The origin of the Kumbh is very old and dates back to the time when amrit kalash (pot of nectar of immortality) was recovered from Samudramanthan (during the churning of the primordial sea), for which a tense war between devatas (Gods) and asuras (demons) ensued. To prevent the amrit kalash being forcibly taken into possession by asuras, its safety was entrusted to Brahaspati, Surya, Chandra and Shani. The four devatas ran away with the kalash to hide it from the asuras. Learning it, the asuras turned ferocious and chased the four Gods. The chase lasted 12 days and nights, during which the devatas and asuras went round the earth and during this chase devatas put amrit kalash at Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik. There are a number of Pauranic legends regarding this.
Akhara processions during the Kumbh have great public attraction. Saints of different Akharas gather at one point and proceed to their camps on vehicles, horses, elephants and chariots, carrying 30ft long dharma dhvaja. They are accompanied by bands and jhankies. These processions are called Peshwai and about 10 such processions are organised during the Kumbh. The time and order of Shahi Snan is predetermined. When the Akharas take their holy dip at Brahmkund, public is not allowed there.
(With inputs from Ravindra Saini, Dehradun)
Most Holy Dates
January 14, 2010 – Makar Sankranti
January 15, 2010 – Mauni Amawasya- Surya Grahan Snan
January 20, – Basant Panchami
January 30, 2010 – Magh Purnima
February 12, 2010 – Shri Mahashivratri-Shahi Snan
March 15, 2010 – Somwati Amavasya-Shahi SnanMarch, 16, 2010 Navsamvatarambh Snan
March 24, 2010 – Shri Ramnavmi
March 30, 2010 – Chaitra Purnima/Padva Snan/Vashnav Akhara Snan
April 14, 2010 – Mesh Sankranti Shahi Snan (Main Snan Parva)
April 28, 2010 – Vaishakh Adhimas/Purnima Snaan