The Kumbh Mela, which is the largest congregation of saints, sadhus, sadhvis, kalpvasis and pilgrims from all walks of life, will begin in Allahabad (Prayagraj) on 15 January 2019.The Mela, which usually extends up to 55 days, draws millions of pilgrims from across the world, who take the holy dip at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers.According to Hindu mythology, Kumbh is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years.The Mela site keeps rotating and spans over four locations across the country:Haridwar on the Ganges in UttarakhandUjjain on the Shipra in Madhya PradeshNashik on the Godavari in MaharashtraPrayagraj at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati in Uttar PradeshThe traditional procession of Akharas called Peshwai on elephant, horses and chariots, the shining swords and rituals of Naga sadhus during shahi snaan, and many other cultural activities form part of the major attractions during the Kumbh celebrations.According to the popular belief, the Kumbh celebrations start at the exact moment when the astrological positions of the sun, the moon, and Jupiter are fully occupied, as it is considered to be the holiest time in Hinduism.Pilgrims show their devotion towards the rivers through aartis on the riverbanks.They also express their gratitude through fasting, satsang, donation, veni daan and by offering prayers.Railways To Run 4 Special 'Pravasi Bharti' Trains For KumbhJust ahead of the Kumbh Mela in January, the railways said it has decided to discontinue 'mela surcharge', an extra charge levied on passengers during major fairs.In an order issued on Tuesday, 11 December, the Railway Board said: “The Ministry of Railways has decided to discontinue the levy of ‘mela surcharge’ with effect from 11 December 2018.”The railways will also run four special trains between Allahabad and Delhi to ferry delegates of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from the Kumbh Mela to Delhi for them to be a part of the Republic Day event.In a meeting, officials from the External Affairs and the Railway Ministry decided that 'Pravasi Bharti' trains will run between 7 pm and 12.50 am on 24 January, sources said.The four trains will begin their journeys from Allahabad – the first one at 19:00 hours, the next at 20:15 hours, then at 22:00 hours and the last one at 00:50 hours. The last train will reach Delhi by 13:30 pm on 25 January.The railways will convert all third AC coaches of the special trains to second AC for providing more comfort to delegates, the sources said.The 15th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas will be held in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi from 21 to 23 January.Govt Planning Airboat ServiceThe Centre is planning to start an airboat service from Varanasi to Allahabad (Prayagraj) for the Kumbh Mela next year, Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday, 12 December.A Russian company is expected to start the service, Gadkari said, adding that the airboat will have an engine of a vehicle and carry 16 people at a time.It can cruise up to 80 kilometers per hour and requires a depth of only 10 centimeters, he said.The service is expected to start by 26 January.Attractions of Kumbh 2019PESHWAIPeshwai is the local dialect for the word ‘Praveshai’, which denotes the grand procession carried out to mark the beginning of the Kumbh Mela by welcoming people from all around the world. In this procession, saints arrive in Kumbh along with their groups on elephants, horses and lavish carriages with bands.Special routes are demarcated for these processions that are led by saints from various Akharas.CULTURAL EVENTSFive pandals will be set up by the UP government to display a series of cultural events ranging from musical performances to traditional and folk dances on a daily basis from January 2019 onward. The Ganga pandal will be the mega structure among all pandals for hosting all the major events.WATERWAYSThe Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is organising a ferry services on the river Yamuna near Sangam Ghat. The route for this service will start from Sujawan Ghat to Rail Bridge (Naini Side) to Boat Club Ghat to Saraswati Ghat and ends at Kila Ghat. Multiple terminals will be constructed on this stretch of 20kms and boats and vessels will be provided by the Mela Authority.TOURIST WALKSThe Uttar Pradesh government has introduced new routes for the tourists visiting Allahabad.It has also unveiled Sangam Walk the itinerary for which is as follows:Starting Point of Trail: Shankar Viman MandapamStop 1: Bade Hanumanji TempleStop 2: Patalpuri MandirStop 3: Akshya VatStop 4: Allahabad FortStop 5: Ram GhatLASER LIGHT SHOWThere will also be a provision for a Laser Light and Sound Show that shall be operational from December 2018 onward at the Prayagraj Fort Wall.The UP government has also released a list of Dos and Dont’s for the pilgrims visiting the Kumbh site.Do’sTravel light and carry medicines if advised by the doctorBeware of the facilities like hospitals, food, and emergency services etc.Know emergency contact numbersUse only the bathing areas/ghats that are authorized by the Mela administrationUse toilets and urinals availableUse dustbins for disposal of WasteUse parking spots for parking of vehicles and follow traffic rulesUse the Bathing Ghats nearest to place of stay in Mela area or the cityInform the Police or Mela Administration if any unidentified or suspicious object is foundCooperate with the Departments involved in organizing the MelaBe attentive towards your belongings and make judicious use of the Lost and Found centres.Dont’sDon’t carry valuables, unnecessary food and clothingDon’t eat at unauthorised placesDon’t venture into the river beyond permissible limitsDon’t pollute the rivers by using soaps, detergents for cleaning/ washing purpose or by throwing Pujan SamagriDon’t be in crowded places if suffering from contagious diseaseDon’t use plastic bags in the city and the area during the KumbhDon’t defecate in the open(With inputs from PTI and Kumbh Mela) We'll get through this! 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