Thursday, January 18, 2018
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welcome all

We welcome all of you who have arrived, who are still arriving by air, trains, buses, cars, tempos, ekkas, bikes and cycles and   even on foot  and will continue to do so in large numbers to take a holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the first of the four great bathing days that fall within the Kumbh month, this year called ‘Mahakumbh’ because it has come after 12 Kumbs-i,e,144 years. Devotees have been pouring into the city from all directions, from nearby villages, distant regions and from even abroad, some attracted by the belief that a bath will give them ‘moksh’ and free them from the cycle of rebirth and that spiritual blessings   will be showered on them here when they take a holy dip. Some have been goaded   by the curiosity to see the mighty spectacle of the Greatest Show on Earth.

Some are coming from western countries to take a look at the unimaginable wonder of millions flocking for a dip in a holy river that is said to be highly polluted ! And who would believe it—unless one visits the spot—to see that people of all castes and beliefs are bathing in the same water, unconcerned about the fact that the  man bathing by their side could belong to the category of untouchables who are socially condemned as outcasts! The rivers might be polluted. But faith is mightier than pollution which has turned the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswasti  into the  rivers   of national integration.  We might have read about firing at religious congregations, blasts inside places of worship and mass killing of men in prayer. But   have we ever  heard about any person, taking a holy dip to  attain  salvation,  wreaking vengeance on someone who may be a co-bather and an old enemy ?  The waters may have become polluted. But they have not turned red except when freedom fighters during the 1857 uprising were shot dead by the British soldiers while  they were rowing or swimming to safety.

  The momentum has picked up. And as the  dawn of  Makarsankranti breaks on the first bathing day of the Mahakumbh,   this morning, one will be able to see millions  waist-deep in water, being blessed by the Sun God. The loudspeakers relaying programme of AIR’s KumbhVani(special channel) will be reassuring you that all  devtas reside here, that when people touch Prayag, all their sins  will instantly be washed away and the people will  get freedom from the cycle of rebirth. Discourses on AIR channels have been blaring that since Brahmaji resides here salvation is assured and that even if a sinner’s ashes are immersed here, he escapes hell and goes straight to heaven. So welcome once again, Brothers and Sisters. Your old friend, the Northern India Patrika, which was with you  in the 1954 Kumbh and thereafter in all Kumbhs, takes special pride in according you a warm welcome in this Kumbh which is not an ordinary Kumbh but a Mahakumbh.

Azam Khan pleased but  angry too!

Azam Khan was seen in both happy and angry moods. Happy, because by and large he was satisfied with the Mela arrangements and hoped that the few shortcomings that remained would soon be set right.  According to one report he even patted the officers for the immense labour they had put in continuously for so many months to organise something on an unprecedented and mammoth scale. If one visits the area he will be impressed by the scenic splendour, especially at night when the place gets the look of a wonderland , something that is  bewitchingly pleasing to the eyes. 
But another report says that Azam Khan flared up on seeing ‘Andhergardi’ in the Mela. The report says that on Saturday night when Azam Khan paid a surprise visit to the mela area he was appalled by the heaps of garbage he saw outside the Mela office. And when he reached the VIP Ghat, he found all darkness there. He said that during the last Ardh Kumbh this place was well lighted. Why this darkness now? And when Azam Khan took a walk around, his foot got stuck in a chequered plate. That was the last straw. But he controlled himself though anger was noticeable in his words when he asked all concerned to thoroughly check and set right the chequered plates or else some elderly people may have a fall there. But   outside the Barre Hanumanji’s temple  when he examined the public toilet and found there was neither light nor water, his temper flared up. He told officials that this was a religious gathering and if insanitary conditions were to persist an epidemic may break out. He was assured that the needful would be done. But the peach comment made by him while giving a dressing down to the bureaucrats present there is worth noting. As reported by Hindi daily ‘Hindustan’, the Minister told the bureaucrats, ‘Totey(parrot) ki terah rataya, phir bhi nahin samjhe!’

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