Thursday, January 18, 2018
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We are once again in the midst of the Magh Mela celebrations. The Makar Sankranti and Paush Purnima  bathing days have once again witnessed mammoth crowds on the banks of the Sangam. Isn’t it a marvel by itself to see the fascinating spectacle of a mass of humanity gathering here at the confluence of the Ganga, the Jamuna and the mythical Saraswati?

On the face of it one may call it the Triveni. But if we take a look at the crowds of devotees who have come here from different parts of the country, speaking different languages, we get an impression that it is not just the rivers that meet here. It is also the meeting ground of people from all parts of the country-a confluence of the people from all directions. It is indeed a rare ‘Sangam’

If we ponder for a while we will see that the Mela has invited mammoth crowds year after year. The pilgrims might not have been the same. How can they be? This Mela has been going on since the past several centuries. Generations have come and gone but the crowds at the fair are the same, rather they are bigger in size and each year they swell further giving a clear indication that people continue to have  faith in the old values, old culture, old traditions represented by the Ganga.

The Ganga waters might have become polluted-- as was stated in a famous song, ‘Ram teri Ganga maili ho gai papiyon ke paap dhote dhote’. And yet we also say, ‘Ganga tera paani amrit’ That may seem to be contradictory. And yet, both the sentiments are correct. One is the real Ganga which has been polluted by the people who have been committing the sins owing to administrative acts of  omission and commission. Who is the sinner? The owners of  the 400 Kanpur tanneries which continue to  send  down their chemical wastes into the river? Or the administration, the officials concerned, who permit these tanneries to send down the polluted waste into the rivers? That is the ‘Ganga’ which has become polluted by  industries on the river bank and by the administration which has allowed the outrage to be committed.  But there is the  other Ganga –the pure, unpolluted Ganga --the Ganga of our dreams, the Ganga of our mind, heart and soul. How can it ever get impure or polluted. It is that Ganga, the pure, unpolluted Ganga, the ideal of our dream, that is pure, ever pure. If this were not so, why would millions throng by the riverside?

People are no longer ignorant about the heavy damage that has been caused to the Ganga by the pollution wastes dumped into the river. They have been reading about it in newspapers, watching the same on TV and yet are streaming in from all directions to kiss its holy waters. Why?  The answer is: The Ganga of our faith, the Ganga of our conception, the Ganga of our dream can never, never be impure. There may be many who visit the Sangam just to breathe in the spiritual atmosphere prevailing here, generated by the intermingling of masses from all over the country, as if taking an undeclared pledge to remain united, remain one. They may not even take a dip. They feel spiritually elevated by just watching the river flowing, still very much alive in spite of the onslaught of the demon of pollution. If there are those who are shamelessly polluting it there are hundreds, thousands and millions who  are praying for its redemption from the clutches of the villainous polluters and many of them are also  striving to restore the purity of its waters as also  praying to the Almighty above to shower His blessings on the Mother Ganga.

 If indeed efforts are made  by the administration to ensure proper level of the Ganga in the lean months and also to put an end to the dumping of industrial and domestic waste into the rivers,  the old glory of the Sangam could be restored . That will be the time when the real Ganga and the Ganga of our conception will merge and there will be no difference between the two. It is to achieve this Sangam—the Sangam of the real Ganga and the Ganga of our dreams—that we must all strive so that coming generations may never have to say that the river waters are polluted.

Time flies. We visited the holy Sangam in the arms of our parents who sprinkled its waters on us so that we might be blessed. Today we are carrying our children, grand-children to the holy banks to seek blessings for the tiny tots. The  chain keeps on becoming lengthier and lengthier with each generation confirming its faith in the spiritual glory of the concept of Ganga.

The Magh Mela will continue for generations and generations. The Kumbh Mela too would be coming after every 12 years to attract millions. We may not be there. So what? The mela would continue. Hasn’t the poet said,

‘Hongi yehi baharen,

Ulfat ki yadgaaren,

Bigarre gi aur banegi,

Duniya yehi rahegi,

Honge yehi jhamele,

Yeh zindagi ke mele,

Duniya mein kam na honge,

Afsos hum na honge..'

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