The Kumbh Blessing
The auspicious occasion of Basant Panchami had brought to the Kumbh two days of heavy rains and thunderstorms. Many living in tents that were not waterproof slept in whatever piece of dry shelter they could find—some wrapped up in plastic from posters that had torn down while others in sheets soaked in rain water. Yet amidst the lack of proper shelter, lack of electricity, deep puddles of mud everywhere and many inconveniences one could find, surprisingly, all people– from the young to the old, from the national to the international—were in high spirits with a smile on their face and a helping hand for their neighbor.
Perhaps this is yet another glimpse into what the Kumbh is really all about. While many of us go around in our everyday lives making sure everything is set — our jobs, families, relationships etc. — at the end of the day we are upset, having to take pills to go to sleep at night. Yet here in the Kumbh Mela nothing is set, neither our shelters nor the provision of basic facilities, and yet nobody seems to be upset.
What is it that pulls over 50 million people over the course of just two months to the holy confluence or sangam of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati? What is it that convinces people that what they are seeking is here in this land—a land that to the naked eye has nothing materially valuable to offer them? What is it that convinces them that taking a dip in the rivers’ waters is worth leaving behind their jobs and homes to walk many kilometers and stay in make-shift tents with thousands of other pilgrims?
How is that without security checks or metal detectors checking every traveler that comes into the mela, everyone feels so safe and comfortable to travel long distances and wander off to nearby akhardas and camps, eating and sleeping in the company of complete strangers?
While nearly 40,000 toilets have been built all over the city and the mela, there is still of course not enough toilets for the millions of people at Kumbh. The two-month long city lacks the infrastructure to effectively treat and manage all the tons of waste-water generated. Yet right after the two major bathing dates, which brought in nearly 50 million people, these heavy rains have carried out the most massive cleaning program. This miracle of nature ensures that the millions of pilgrims yet to come can also enjoy a happy and healthy stay. It makes one in awe of Nature’s perfect system–one that far surpasses any engineering or administrative feat of man– in which cleansing and regeneration comes naturally in the cycle of life. Perhaps if we let Nature just be we would be blessed to experience how it has the power to take care and provide for us all– how it truly is working for the welfare of all.
While these many wonders of the Kumbh continue to make it a phenomenon that pulls and attracts all from every corner of the planet, it also makes one think there must be something to the madness, there must be some peace within the chaos. It makes one begin to have faith that there truly must be some divine power governing and taking care of everything, and that by simply being and experiencing this phenomenon of Kumbh, one is forever changed and charged.