Finally, tickets booked and gathered strength and am all set to visit the largest gathering of humans on earth. Precise Location: Allahabad, India. I hear numbers as high as 100 million will be there. At this moment, I am not sure how scientific is the method used to calculate or predict these numbers. But even with a margin (read huge) error of 50%, I am excited to be amongst the spectators of this huge gathering.
I really don’t know how it is to really be there – since this is my visit to a Kumbh Mela and have heard very few first hand experiences so far. I have been to crowded places before and they seem scary to me. I don’t like them one bit. But even the largest crowd I might have witnessed in my life may only be a percent (1%) of what I am about to witness. I really had to think through the possibilities of stampede, mass violence etc to finally gather the courage to “just do it”.
Originally, Kumbh Mela is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus. And followers of Hindu religion go for a dip in holy water to cleanse themselves of all the sins they have committed in this life. At least this is what I thought until, this festival got me interested in it and I tried to find out what it is. Though the act of dipping still remains to be the main activity people go there for, the essence of it seems to be very different.
More and more people are visiting Kumbh Mela, and have claimed it to be a life changing experience. People come to the river sides and stay in camps for the entire duration of the festival, which is roughly a month and a half. Its statistically proven, that even with so much of crowd, and the (mis)management typically associated with such huge crowds, these people return healthier. This has probably been taken a serious note of. This year, a team from Harvard Business School is studying the festival to understand ‘How on earth is an event of this size possible’. They also want to look at environment and tourism and health clinics and sanitation arrangements – that make it possible.
As an Indian, I sure am proud of the business practices followed by the collaborative PPP (Public Private Partnerships) model, probably much needed for any gathering of comparable to this scale. To me, PPP – Public departments (Govt bodies), Private (private agencies, service providers), People (Me, Thou and Thee). It takes real people to implement any good practice to be a success.
I am so looking forward to be part of the largest congregation of the human kind on this planet!! Will share more when I return!! Pictures and experience.
P.S: For those – who don’t know what Kumbh Mela is and want more details of its origin and auspiciousness as per the religion – feel free to Google it out. There is enough written there to know theoretically what it is. However, I will be writing what it is to me , once I comeback – from a Life Changing Experience.