Monday, November 20, 2017
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I have been watching the spiritual craze for the Melas on the banks of the Sangam since 1954 when the first Kumbh Mela in free India was organized here and crowds reached  Allahabad in unexpected torrents that resulted in a mammoth tragedy. Year after year it is the same story. People have changed.

Generations have changed. The world has advanced, And India too has made spectacular progress in various fields. But all this notwithstanding, the call of the Ganga has not been drowned in the sea of modernism and materialism  which have engulfed our lives. We still crave for the Ganga, knowing full well that its waters may not be fit for a bath. The scientific reality gets buried deep under the weight of our spiritual beliefs which bring us year after year to the Sangam banks on the occasion of either the annual Magh Mela or the 12-yearly Mahakumbh.
And so it is the same spectacular scene of faith conquering all hurdles. People have come, some are coming and many more will keep on coming on trains, by air, by buses, taxis, cars, tractors,  autos, bikes, cycles, rickshaws, tongas, ekkas and even on foot carrying their belongings on their heads. Some will be staying here for the whole month. The Kalpvasis as they are called, seem to derive enormous spiritual solace here, listening to the sermons of the sages, waking up in the morning by the sound of temple bells and then walking through the foggy morn to reach the river waters for a dip. The saints are here in plenty too—but with a difference, They are not like the hermits of the olden era. They are very much modern who are in a better position to tell the congregation about the difference they are experiencing between the two worlds—the world of materialism and the glory of spiritualism. In the past you would get a rare  glimpse of these holy men. But today you can see them moving about on scooters through the Mela. Some of them have arrived in their personal, luxurious  cars. In the past Melas, when they were busy giving sermons, the anti-social elements  had broken the window panes of their cars and carried away cash, clothes, laptops, audio system and the rest of it. Both good and evil co-exist in the Mela and the best efforts of the administration to prevent such thefts do not always succeed because the crooks  know how to outsmart the cops , especially when they are not fully alert

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