Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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maha kumbh begins

Largest congregation in the world  converges at Sangam

It was unbelievable—the victory of faith over all discomforts. Undoubtedly, the crowds that converged on the Sangam could be easily described as the largest congregation in the world for at no other place either in India or abroad can such a magnificent spectacle be seen—of people trudging along on foot, in buses, on tractors, in cars, on bullock carts, ekkas,  in rickshaws, tempos, on bikes, in  trains and even rushing by air just to touch the holy waters of the Sangam.

And what a spectacular sight it was to see at night the entire place illuminated like a fairyland with lights twinkling all around , tempting many of us to recite the childhood nursery rhyme, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars, How I wonder What You Are’   From the Bandh, after dusk till dawn,  that was the glorious sight visible. With weather being less cold, without the bitterness of the winter experienced only a few days ago, a sea of humanity could be seen flowing in torrents but smoothly and methodically, the occasional  jolts and  pinpricks notwithstanding. Did anyone care to find out who was walking by his or her side? It could be any one—a robber, a dacoit, a rapist, a killer of any caste or creed, rich or poor, sick or infirm, suffering from AIDs or leprosy. All were moving together without a hitch to receive the blessings of the Ganga.
This convergence was fantastic!  Incidentally, the convergence theory  holds that crowd behaviour is not a product of the crowd itself, but is carried into the crowd by particular individuals. Thus, crowds amount to a convergence of like-minded individuals. In other words, while contagion theory states that crowds cause people to act in a certain way, convergence theory says the opposite: that people who wish to act in a certain way come together to form crowds. That is what one saw in the Sangam area on Makar Sankranti , the first major bathing day when millions visited the Teerthraj Prayag to take a dip in the hope that this will release them from the bondage of rebirths, elevate their souls, purge their minds of all evil and make way for the lamp of divinity to enter the dark corridors of our hearts so as to  illumine our paths  towards our cherished goals , very much earthly but , nevertheless, not less heavenly than the paradise above.
How deep is the reverence for the Ganga, how deep the faith in the beliefs that have been handed down to us from generation to generation as a part of our spiritual heritage , would be evident from the answer given by a rugged man with a wrinkled face, barely able to walk but was being helped by youngsters in the family. He was asked: ‘You must have seen many Maghs and several Kumbhs. Why have you come now? Don’t you see that the Ganga is not at all as pure as it was in 1954? It is dirty, putrid, highly polluted. ‘ The reply he gave was: ‘Ganga is our Mother. If she falls ill, should be forsake her? A mother, no matter how sick, how feeble will always bless her children. The Ganga maiya will also always bless us even though she has been made sick by the very people who have come here to seek her blessings.’
It is how you look at things which matters. Beauty or ugliness lies in the eyes of the beholder. I won’t say that everything was perfect, that all was beautiful, that there were no ugly spots, that people faced no difficulty or that the administration, especially the police, didn’t have any black-sheep among them to give trying moments to the public or that the journalists faced no roadblocks. But  these seemed forgotten in the face of the majestic and the mesmerizing, dazzling and  glorious spectacle witnessed on the occasion. It was sheer delight if one cared to look at all that was done and forgot for a while for the little that was not done.
The experience of Makar Sankranti will give all concerned a chance to further improve upon their performance and remove the pinpricks that were experienced. But, hasn’t it been said that wherever there is a rose, some thorns are bound to be there? Let us think of the roses for a while. We will have plenty of time to think of the thorns.

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