Why Nashik Kumbh Mela will be of epic proportions this time
The mega religious gathering along on the banks of the Godavari river is set to welcome millions of visitors and will be marked by initiatives that boost tourism and help in the brand building exercise.
All roads will lead to Nashik for the next two months as the Nashik Kumbh Mela was officially inaugurated by the Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
Marked by the chanting of hymns and poojas, the opening was held in two spots, around 40km apart — one in Trimbakeshwar and the other in Nashik, along the banks of the Godavari river. The mega holy gathering begins on July 14 and will go on till September 18.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest religious congregations, which is held once in 12 years, the kumbh mela, this year, is set to draw in 30 million devotees, pilgrims and tourists to the city of Nashik, often recognised as an important pilgrimage town for Hindus. Besides its religious and social significance, this year’s mela is marked by interesting initiatives that boost tourism and help in the brand building exercise.
In 2009, the state government had allocated a budget of over Rs 2,300 crore for the kumbh mela preparations, ranging from roads development to arrangements for the pilgrims, security measures and waste management initiatives.
Known as the Harit Kumbh or the green kumbh, this year’s mela is set to be environment-friendly. So, the state government will clean up the Godavari, remove waste from the river and plant one lakh saplings to increase the green cover and reverse any potential environment damage due to the heavy crowds.
Jute and cotton bags are being distributed with a message to not use plastic during the mela. A few thousand toilets have been constructed all over the area. Garbage bins are out up near food and tea stalls to prevent littering. Sewage treatment plants are set up so that untreated sewage isn’t released into the river.
Technology meets devotion
The state government is using technology in a big way to assist tourists and pilgrims and spread information. A website dedicated to the mela gives information about the significance and important religious dates. Around 700 CCTV cameras will keep vigil to ensure better security. LED screen have been installed to keep giving live updates to people.
Community radios have been set up in buses to disseminate information to pilgrims and travelers.
Business Gets a Boost
A festival as significant as the Kumbh mela is an opportunity in branding and promoting tourism. This year, there ‘religious packages’ on offer, so you can spend a few nights in Nashik, take a dip in the river and then visit other key temples in the region.
The mela is a time when local businesses step up their activities. With a growing demand for hotels and rest houses, hotels are offering special stay packages and people have converted their houses into home stays.
Significance of the festival
Believers and religious scholars say that when Gods and demons were fighting over the sacred nectar, Lord Vishnu flew away with the pot of nectar spilling a few drops at four different places-- Haridwar, Nashik, Ujjain and Prayag. The Kumbh mela is held at these spots. The celebration of Kumbh Mela and its location depends on the position of Jupiter. It is said that when Jupiter and sun fall on the zodiac sign of Leo, the Kumbh Mela is celebrated at Trimbakeshwar in Nashik. The mela is marked by religious rites and rituals, devotional music and a gathering of sadhus. The kumbh mela also attracts non-believers who want to experience or document the gathering.