1. Kumbh 2019 – The Spectacle and The Saffron
‘Divya Kumbh, Bhavya Kumbh’ – goes the tagline of the mega event slated to begin on 14 January in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad). If the ‘Divya’ (divine) pitch has the Kumbh glass only ‘Ardh’ (half) full, ‘Bhavya’ (grandeur) ensures that it becomes ‘Purna’ to the brim.
Old timers of the city said that they have not witnessed this level of grandiosity around the mela. “24 ministers of the state Cabinet have been deputed to invite chief ministers and governors across the country. This is like Raja Janak sending out invitations for Sita’s Swayamvar,” said Kamal Krishna Roy, a practicing lawyer at the Allahabad High Court.
“Luxury cottages with tariffs up to Rs 29,000 a day have been set up for tourists,” said Roy, who was the President of the Allahabad University Students’ Union (AUSU) in 1990.
Widening of roads, erecting LED billboards and applying fresh coats of paint are among the measures being taken in Prayagraj ahead of the Kumbh Mela. However, one theme runs common through the entire beautification process – saffronisation, literally and metaphorically.
“Roundabouts, bridges and flyovers are being painted in saffron. Walls across the city, including those of Allahabad University, now have graffiti of sadhus (saints),” said KK Pandey, Editor of a local magazine Samkaleen Janmat.
Pandey also said that a PIL has been filed after a gate constructed by ruler Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century in Prayagraj’s Khusrobagh was razed to widen the road.