Discourage mammoth congregations?

When I heard about a team from Harvard studying the temporary settlement of literally a ‘country’ on the banks of Sangam in Allahabad, I was hardly surprised.

It actually calls for research, a research that covers its every aspect – from waste management to crowd management.

Amitabh Bachchan, who spent his childhood in Allahabad, was bang on when he tweeted, “It is nothing short of a miracle to be able to conduct an event like the Kumbh and have management for it in place.”

Outside Allahabad, perhaps it is hard to even fathom the magnitude of Kumbh as well as the faith that drives millions to the Sangam city. Till the Sunday tragedy struck the mega affair, most of my friends, who had gone to Sangam were quite ecstatic after the holy dip.

“You should personally experience the bliss after the dip in the cold waters. It’s less to do with faith, the reasons are more scientific,” they argued. Till then, there were no adverse comments on the arrangements.

But hell broke loose after 36 deaths in a stampede at the railway station on Sunday. People dispute the figure of three to four crores, but there is no denying of the fact that unprecedented crowds were at the Sangam and I hold the saints responsible for the unmanageable congregation.

As it is a matter of faith, no individual can convince the ‘gullible’ except for the saints who should tell people that all the 55 days of the Kumbh are as significant as the day of Mauni Amavasya and Basant Panchami.

As they lead the ’shahi snans’ these dates may be more auspicious for the religious leaders that stay at Kumbh through the two month period.

This is the only way to scatter crowds and save lives. Management of crowds at Kumbh or any other religious congregation has often ended with loss of lives in stampedes across the country. Probes have been done but lessons hardly learnt.

Instead of blaming each other, it’s time we discourage such huge religious congregations.

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