Nashik: Highlighting the importance of sanitation, hygiene, and clean water, the spiritual leaders called for a Swachch Kumbh at the ongoing Kumbh Mela here on Thursday.
At an event organized by Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and WASH United, they also spoke about the importance of toilet usage and said that open defecation has contributed to the poor health of India’s children.
On the occasion, a new initiative called Swachh Kumbh Diwas was launched, in which the participants and devotees committed for a clean Kumbh Mela and a Swachh Bharat.
The event was addressed, among others, by Mahamandaleshwar Swami Gurusharananandji Maharaj, Raman Reti, Mathura, Swami Avdheshanand Giriji, and Acharya Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara.
The GIWA, with a secretariat in India, was launched in collaboration with the UNICEF under the sponsorship of USAID and the Netherlands.
Varanasi, Sep 23 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a public gathering in Varanasi said that sanitation is worship for him, as it can rid the poor of various diseases.
The gathering was largely attended by people on the second day of his Varanasi visit. Modi visited, Shahanshahpur a village of his Lok Sabha constituency. Where he laid the foundation stone of a public toilet in the area.
“That is because sanitation is also a kind of worship for me. It will rid the poor of my country of various diseases and the economic burden due to those diseases that result from dirty surroundings,” he said while addressing people there.
He said while no one likes garbage, everyone in India shies away from the responsibility of keeping their surroundings clean.
“It is the responsibility of every citizen and every family to keep their surroundings clean so we are able to build clean villages, clean cities and a clean nation,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister urged people to take one resolution each, to improve the nation by 2022. The year will also mark the 75 years of independence.
“In the coming five years, we have to be committed towards that resolution. If 125 crore people take one resolution each and live up to it, then the nation would move 125 crore steps forward in the next five years,” he said.
Harvard University has added prestige and importance to the Indian heritage by publishing ‘Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Mega-City,’ a book that details about the brilliance with which Maha Kumbh Mela of 2013 was organised.
The studies were carried out by a team of 50 professors and students at the South Asia Institute of Harvard to learn about what makes this temporarily built city of pilgrimage a “megacity.” The book was launched this year, in 2016, on August 1, mentioned the TOI report.
India is one of the most culturally and spiritually rich nations of the world, where Eid, Diwali, Christmas and all festivals are celebrated with great zeal. With some celebrations lasting for days and months, the Kumbh Mela is a mass pilgrimage of Hindu devotees that take a dip in the sacred rivers to wash off their sins. The Maha Kumbh Mela is a 55-day long confluence which is held periodically after every 12 years.
According to the TOI report, this 449-page book contains town planners, architectural and infrastructural plans of bigger cities than the mela, which locates the Kumbh Mela as a better-organised spectacle than Manhattan and FIFA World Cup held in Brazil in 2014. The book calls the confluence ‘more than mere a spectacle.’
“How more than 100 million come to a small place, stay there for 55 days, apart from a daily cycle of a crowd of nearly five million bathing at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, meet each other, pray, join their gurus, camp with sadhus and ascetics and safely return to their native places are the things worth studying.”
– ‘KumbhMela- Mapping the Ephemeral Mega-City’
The Kumbh Mela of 2013 was organised in Allahabad under the government of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Yadav launched the Hindi translation of the book in Lucknow on Monday, August 1.
390 million of total calls and messages were sent and received over the period of the mela making it the largest usage of mobile phones in a concentrated area.
Total 146 million messages were exchanged and over 245 million calls were made.
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.
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.
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.
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_