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India’s Kumbh Melas: The traditional Congregation is under danger due to Water Scarcity

According to a report by Indian Institute of Technology, maintaining the continuous flow of water in these rivers has become a big challenge

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Pilgrims taking dip at Kumbh Mela. Image Source: kumbmela.com
  • The practice of organizing Kumbh Mela dates back to the eighth century and are hosted at  Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik
  • The un-thought measures in a country that are already one of the most water-stressed countries are nothing less than catastrophic
  • These congregations are not spaced out they add to the woes of the holy rivers

The receding holy water at the Kumbh Melas is a stark reflection of water scarcity inflicted by man, which in turn is intensified by adverse weather conditions.

Reflecting on the unfortunate state of river Shipra, Badal Nath (64) said, “The last time (12 years ago), it was a stinking drain, nauseating even to step into, let alone take a dip. The water we see now has been pumped from the Narmada. What have we done to our holy river?”

This quote seems to be inappropriate when you read about the smoothly flowing Shipra river in the Simhastha Kumbh Mela that ended on May 21. But the truth that it was a superficial arrangement. The water was pumped through a concrete, closed pipe from the Narmada to Shipra so that pilgrims could conveniently take their holy dip.

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A few years ago, Shipra was hardly recognizable as a holy river and all it carried was sewage. Later, the BJP led Madhya Pradesh government came up with what is today termed as a ‘skewed’ scheme to transfer five cusecs of water every day from the Narmada near Omkareshwar to Shipra.

Another instance of negligence and failure by the government bodies is the condition of the Godavari, which also hosts a Kumbh Mela every 12 years. Putting the ancient Hindu practice of taking a dip in the holy water in danger, it was observed that Ramkund in Nashik, the center of the festival last year, had also dried up in April for the first time.

The practice of organizing Kumbh Mela dates back to the 8th century, during which the pilgrims take a dip in the sacred water bodies in a hope of finding salvation at four places- namely, Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. Each place holds its congregation every 12 years and is usually visited by millions of pilgrims.

The lack of water in these rivers is mostly covered up by the government and civic bodies to escape massive public anger and therefore, they usually come up with short-lived and temporary solutions. Apart from this, there is one more reason that contributes to the problem. These congregations are not spaced out (say, for example, the Nashik Kumbh was held in 2015 and shortly after Ujjain Kumbh was hosted in 2016), they add to the woes of our holy rivers.

Nashik Kumbh Mela 2015. Image Source: YouTube.com
Nashik Kumbh Mela 2015. Image Source: YouTube.com

According to a report by Indian Institute of Technology, maintaining the continuous flow of water in these rivers has become a big challenge.

The long period of drought in Central India has worsened the effect of government’s negligence of Godavari. The result was that the Municipal Corporation had to turn to pump water from groundwater in 2015.

These un-thought measures in a country that are already one of the most water-stressed countries are nothing less than catastrophic.

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No doubt, India is going through the worst hydrological crisis of all times. Scroll.in quoted Himanshu Thakkar, a river expert as saying, “Although the change in weather patterns and increasing rise in temperatures have contributed to it, our rivers are facing unprecedented deterioration today because of the way we have ill-treated them.”

Somnath Bandyopadhyay, an ecologist, also added, “Some of the projects implemented in the 1950s and 60s failed to take the long view, and have contributed to the present sorry situation of sick and dying rivers.”

Thakkar believes that immediate remedial measures must be taken to restore the water flow of these rivers.

Many believe that the Hindu society needs to actively participate since it is about safeguarding their religion and tradition.

However, for now, it seems that our holy rivers are in serious danger, which can’t be reversed any time soon.

-prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_

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  • JayZ

    all one billion of them planning to move to the usa.Chew on them apples.

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Kumbh Mela is the largest religious gathering.

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Make a pious dip in the holy waters of the Ganga this Ganga Dussehra festival

On this day, devotees take bath in Ganges, which is considered to be highly auspicious

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The Holy River Ganga in Haridwar, Source: Pixabay
  • Ganga Dussehra will be celebrated on 03 June
  • Devotees take holy bath in river Ganga on this day to cleanse sins and misdeeds

Kolkata, June 03, 2017: Ganga Dussehra, also known as Gangavataran means ‘descent of the Ganga’. It falls during Dashami Tithi of Jyeshtha Shukla Paksha. This year, Ganga Dussehra will be celebrated on 3rd June, Saturday. Click To Tweet

Usually, the devotees celebrate Ganga Dussehra a day before Nirjala Ekadashi. But sometimes Ganga Dussehra and Nirjala Ekadashi falls on the same day.

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Just like any other Hindu festival, the festival also has a history. This day is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and commemorated as the day when Ganga was descended to the Earth to complete her mission to purge the souls of the ancestors of King Bhagiratha who were cursed by Kapil Muni. The Goddess Ganga resided in the Kamandal of Lord Brahma before coming to the earth. It is believed that Goddess Ganga brought with her the purity of heaven.

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On this day, the Goddess Ganga is worshipped by devotees and the devotees take bath in the Ganges. It is considered to be highly auspicious and pious to take bath in the Ganges and offer charity or Dan-Punya (दान-पुण्य) to the needy on Ganga Dussehra day. Devotees gather in large numbers with the belief that all types of sins and misdeeds can be cleansed by a holy dip in the Ganges on Ganga Dussehra day.

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Devotees gather at Allahabad/Prayag, Garhmukteshwar, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi to take a holy bath in the Ganges. Among others, Varanasi is famous for the legendary Ganga Dussehra celebrations. On this day, a huge number of devotees participate in Ganga Aarti after Ganga Snan at Dasaswamedh Ghat.

People often confuse Ganga Dussehra with Ganga Jayanti, which is the day when Goddess Ganga was born.

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The puja timings of the festival are mentioned below:
Dashami Tithi Begins = 06:51 on 3/Jun/2017
Dashami Tithi Ends = 08:03 on 4/Jun/2017

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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“Swami Ramdev”: An encounter with Yoga Guru, his disciples inside the Patanjali Empire

The Swami who started his journey from Haridwar on a cycle has now chosen the vehicle of choice to galore his aspirations

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Baba Ramdev and PM Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

August 17, 2016: It was in 2006 when I first met Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev. He was in the D-block of Patanjali Phase-1 ashram in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. The ashram was commissioned in the same year and Swami Ramdev was in a hurry. His Yoga exposure was touching the sky and his fellow Acharya Balkrishna was fully engaged with Ayurveda with a back support of their third trusted ‘classmate’ Swami Muktanand. This trio has a distinct combination. One is from Haryana, another is born in Haridwar and the third one belongs to West Bengal. Swami Muktanand is one of a hidden gem, who never talks to outsiders.

Today for Ramdev, the prefix of Swami/ Baba has gone behind when the saint sat in Ramlila Maidan and showed his political interest in full glow. Ramdev’s presence in media has given him enough perception power to garner or fetch desirable results. The Swami who started his journey from Haridwar on a cycle has now chosen the vehicle of choice to galore his aspirations. Ramdev was a skilful seller, in the start he convinced a Delhi-based businessman to give him a rational amount to make some medicines for Northeast states. This was the first deal.

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Swami Ramdev never hides his muscles. He can walk fast in his khadua (wooden sandals) and he still sleeps in his 10×10 room without AC. He uses strictly Indian brands of mobile phone, cars, SUV and only drinks Indian mineral water, especially when he is outside. He was literally without water for hours in Vietnam, I offered him a foreign brand mineral water and he told me it’s a foreign brand. He may forget the taste of rice and pulses because he eats fruits and milk only. His life has many dimensions, he wakes up at 4am and does yoga for two to three hours, in the starting he himself sat for hours to edit his TV shows; he is like a curious child to learn any new things and he never shy of his ignorance. Once he recites a sloka to me, which is 15 minutes long. His memory is sharp and never forgets names. He never shies to talk to ‘anyone’ in front of you.

Patanjali Yogpeeth. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Patanjali Yogpeeth. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The acumen and vision of Swami Ramdev that has started with the aspiration to control powers in every stream is phenomenal. When the whole world has seen his transition from Sanskar & Aastha to many News Channels, he strategically bought both channels to control the religious landscape. This was a sharp move, though the lesser-known fact is that he also bought a Jain religious channel Arihant in the bouquet. He rechristened the group as Vedic Broadcasting. This move has given him a big edge. It’s a known fact that the revenue of these religious channels comes from the saints and their Katha organisers. Now Swami Ramdev is a power player, who is also cajoling with the business community, who is somehow functional to many religious events. His name becomes synonymous with Yoga and subconsciously for religion and spirituality.

Swami Ramdev knows politics. It always boosts his goals. When Vrinda Karat raises the issue of human bone in his medicines and later a medicine named, Putrajeevak, raised eyebrows, he beautifully narrates his point and garners a proper interest in the medium class. His fights with celebrities always make him more big and boastful. His art to navigate political boats, take him too many and finally make him a loyal supporter of the current government.  Swami Ramdev openly told many times in past that he has inclinations towards politics. Even he planned to launch a political party, but later he understands the fire and its bruises.

It’s an open fact that Swami Ramdev was not very loved in the religious city of Haridwar, his ashram is also on the outskirts.  The way he has become a phenomenon was always seen as a gimmick. Even the biggest name of Yoga, BKS Iyengar was never fond of his practices. He has serious differences on Kapalbhati. He lamented that “his selling of Kapalbhati is corrupting Patanjali’s Yoga”.  But today Patanjali is synonymous with the brand Baba has created.

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When one meets Acharya Balkrishna, he offers a lot of things to eat. All are prepared in his factories and are ayurvedic. Balkrishna is fond of physical exercise and has a keen eye for details.  He loves to travel and he spends a lot of time in the Himalayas. His passion of Ayurveda can amaze you, but he loves control. His special bonding with Swami Ramdev grows because of the mutual trust and understanding of the goals, they both designed long back.

Swami Ramdev was the right person at the right time. His mission has synced with the nationalistic feelings of the dispensation. His vision is to become a dominant brand with the national presence of pride. His nationalistic aspirations today make him a new avatar of bharat putra. In few years he may dance on his music, but his real test was when he beat the odds and become a non-politically effective brand.

– by Bhavya Srivastava, a freelance contributor. He is a member of International Association of Religion Journalists and can be contacted at Twitter: @MeBhavya

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More than 30 Madrasas decline mid-day meals from ‘Hindu’ organisations in Ujjain

After the tender of Iskon ended in July 2016, BRK Foods provide mid-day meals to 315 schools, out of which 56 Madrasas have declined this offer as well

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madrasa
Image source: indianexpress.com
  • More than 30 madrasas have declined to accept the food that comes as mid-day meals from Hindu organisations
  • Parents of madrasa students have threatened madrasas that they would remove their children from the school if they continue to accept food from the present suppliers
  • Official administration denied the reports saying madrasa refused the meals as the students are used to a different variety of food

More than 30 Madrasas in Ujjain have declined to accept the food that comes as mid-day meals for the school students, alleging it was an attempt to spoil faith. Since 2010, Iskon Temple has been serving mid-day meals to schools in the city. However, the administrative wing of the Madrasas have declined to accept food from Iskon any longer, mentioned an ANI report on August 6.

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Midday Meal Scheme children at primary school, Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Parents of Muslim students claim that the trust used the food to school before offering it to Hindu Gods, which is unacceptable to some. After the tender of Iskon ended in July 2016, food suppliers BRK Foods and Ma Parvati Foods were enlisted to provide the mid-day meals but madrasas have refused to accept food from both of them. BRK provides mid-day meals to 315 schools, out of which 56 Madrasas have declined the offer.

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According to the ANI report, parents of madrasa students have threatened madrasas that they would remove their children from the school if they continue to accept food from the present suppliers. Parents have demanded that food should be cooked in the madrasas themselves rather than bringing it from outside.

However, the administrative wing of the Madrasas denied the reports saying that children in madrasa are used to different kind of meals. Due to the conflicting statements by some parents of the children studying in Madrasa and the administrative wing, the matter is now under examination.

–  prepared by Akanksha Sharma of NewsGram. Twitter: Akanksha4117

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