Allahabad Ė 23th
Saying Goodbye to the
by Tony Fernandes
This is the last illustrated report on
Zenzibar from the Maha Kumbha Mela 2001. We maintained coverage of this
unique event in spite many difficulties. We made sure we were here
before the beginning and stayed on till after the end. Since I am
leaving Allahabad tomorrow morning (24th February) there will
be no more regular updates from here.
The Kumbh Mela administration has lifted
all restrictions. This has opened up a number of possibilities, some
quite amusing. People can now drive their cars up to the waterís edge
at the Sangam. Some pilgrims are giving their cars a bath in order to
immunize themselves from accidents. Shepherds and farmers are also
appearing and making the most of the space available. The city of
Allahabad did not experience any power cuts or water supply
interruptions during the Kumbh Mela because the country wanted to show
the world that India is an efficient place that works. Allahabadis were
promised better services as a result of improved and expanded
infrastructure. This promise is beginning to melt away fast. Since
Shivratri we have had a number of power cuts without warning. The water
supply is also being interrupted. Since the media spotlight is no longer
here itís back to normality. Fill up the buckets and keep the candles
Allahabad and its citizens have been good
to me. Saying goodbye is always painful and difficult. When I arrived
here on 7th January this place was very cold. Now it is
bright and sunny and the Ganges has receded dramatically. The auspicious
bathing days were in the future then, but now they are in the past. The
event itself is the kind of stuff that happens in dreams. I think I am
awake now, but who knows, I could well be asleep. Perhaps in a few
months time, this phenomenon that just flashed by will begin to make
sense. It has pierced my Heart, and I know it is only a matter of time
before the mystery embedded within is gradually revealed.
In December 2000 very few had heard of
the Kumbha Mela. Now, a couple of months later, millions around the
world have heard about it and many have seen it unfold on TV. I salute
the millions of pilgrims who made this a living, pulsating, vibrant and
energizing experience for all. The pain and struggle that many of them
went through to get here is beyond belief. Faith has no logic or reason.
Faith is something we must all learn to cultivate. The pilgrims here
have taught me that vulnerability is an important key to faith. I saw it
Three cheers for the pilgrim.
Three cheers for Prayaga Raja.
Three cheers for the Kumbha Mela.
Three cheers to you.
OM TAT SAT.
Fernandes was Zenzibar's correspondent at Kumbh Mela 2001 in Allahabad,