Kumbh Mela’s splendour mesmerises PBD delegates at Prayagraj

The delegates of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) and NRIs were mesmerised seeing the splendour of Kumbh Mela on the banks of Ganga and Yamuna in the city of Prayagraj (formerly known as Allahabad).

They also took a dip in the holy Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, which would be forever etched in their memories.

PBD delegates enjoying Indian hospitality at the sprawling Indraprastham Tent City in the Kumbh Mela area as they reached Prayagraj from Varanasi. Photo: Connected to India
PBD delegates enjoying Indian hospitality at the sprawling Indraprastham Tent City in the Kumbh Mela area as they reached Prayagraj from Varanasi. Photo: Connected to India

About 3,000 PBD delegates arrived in Prayagraj in about 80 special AC Volvo buses amidst high security. The entire route from Varanasi to Prayagraj stretching to about 120 km was completely sanitised and provided foolproof security. Security of each bus was monitored by a SHO (Station House officer who is the head of an Indian police station) while a CO (Circle Officer who is the head of several police stations) was incharge of the security of 10 buses.

Convoy of vehicles carrying PBD delegates entering Indraprastham in the Kumbh Mela area in Prayagraj. Photo: Connected to India
Convoy of vehicles carrying PBD delegates entering Indraprastham in the Kumbh Mela area in Prayagraj. Photo: Connected to India

The delegates were directly driven to the Indraprastham Tent City. Here, arrangements of their refreshments were made.

Gen VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Siddharta Nath Singh, Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh extended a warm welcome to the PBD delegates and garlanded them on their arrival in the Kumbh city.

VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Siddharta Nath Singh, Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh and others holding angvastram to welcome PBD delegates at Kumbh Mela. Photo: Connected to India
VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Siddharta Nath Singh, Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh and others holding angvastram to welcome PBD delegates at Kumbh Mela. Photo: Connected to India

Welcoming the delegation, Gen. VK Singh said the motive for creating such a platform was to make India more inclusive. We have lined various programmes for the NRI visitors.

Singh even played the part of a tourist guide, using a microphone to brief the visiting delegation about the importance of Kumbh. “We welcome you at the Kumbh Mela from my heart. I wanted you to see how the government and the local administration is managing the crores of devotees who come to this place,” he said.

VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Siddharta Nath Singh, Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh along with the PBD delegates. Photo: Connected to India
VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Siddharta Nath Singh, Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh along with the PBD delegates. Photo: Connected to India

Rita Bahuguna Joshi also welcomed the PBD delegates. She said, “PBD provides people living outside India an opportunity to come and feel the essence of India. Their visit gives us happiness.

Laxmi Sharma, who lives in the USA, was particularly excited to participate in the Kumbh Mela which is the biggest conglomeration of people on Earth. She said, “I always harboured the dream of seeing the Kumbh Mela and thanks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving us the opportunity to realise our dream. It is a unique experience to come to this place and be in communion with the spirituality pervading the place.

One of the PBD delegates capturing precious moments of this unique journey on his cellphone. Photo: Connected to India
One of the PBD delegates capturing precious moments of this unique journey on his cellphone. Photo: Connected to India

Most of the PBD delegates were seen capturing precious moments of this unique journey while others were clicking selfies. Some of the NRIs also clicked selfies with Gen VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Siddharta Nath Singh, Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh who duly obliged them.

Women NRIs interacting with Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh (extreme right) in the Kumbh Mela area. Photo: Connected to India
Women NRIs interacting with Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh (extreme right) in the Kumbh Mela area. Photo: Connected to India

Women NRIs also interacted with Rita Bahuguna Joshi and shared their experiences about the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas Convention which took place for three days in Varanasi.

Earlier, various cultural programmes were performed at Indraprastham. Artists from different corners of India were brought to Prayagraj to welcome the NRIs.

Artists performing dance to welcome the PBD delegates. Photo: Connected to India
Artists performing dance to welcome the PBD delegates. Photo: Connected to India

Later, the PBD delegates were taken to the Sangam on motorboats. It is the meeting point of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna and people believe that taking dip at this holy place wash away their sins.

Chandra Dutt who had come all the way from Surinam was elated to take dip at the holy Sangam. He said, “Taking a dip at this holy place is a unique experience in itself. Though the water was cold, but I had a special spiritual feeling which cannot be explained in words.”

NRIs are in elated mood as they are acquainted with the vibrant Indian culture. Photo: Connected to India
NRIs are in elated mood as they are acquainted with the vibrant Indian culture. Photo: Connected to India

Later, the delegates were taken to visit the historic Akshyavat tree located in the precincts of Allahabad Fort. This tree has been opened for the public for the first time in this Kumbh Mela.

The cavalcade of NRIs were also taken to the Bade Hanuman temple where they offered prayers and sought blessings.

The visit has been organised by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Uttar Pradesh government as part of this year’s PBD celebrations. The main convention at Varanasi concluded on Wednesday.  

Women draped in sarees positioned at Allahabad junction bidding good bye to the PBD delegates. Photo: Connected to India
Women draped in sarees positioned at Allahabad junction bidding good bye to the PBD delegates. Photo: Connected to India

Meanwhile, Indian Railways made arrangements for ferrying PBD delegates from Prayagraj to New Delhi where they will attend the Republic Day parade on January 26. Railways is running four ‘Pravasi Bharti’ special trains which departed from Allahabad station at different times.

PBD delegates in an excited mood as they prepare to leave Prayagraj and continue to go to New Delhi where they will witness Republic Day on January 26. Photo: Connected to India
PBD delegates in an excited mood as they prepare to leave Prayagraj and continue to go to New Delhi where they will witness Republic Day on January 26. Photo: Connected to India

Railways has converted all third-tier AC coaches of the special trains to second AC for providing more comfort to the delegates.  They are being served special vegetarian foods in the train.

NRI couple taking selfie at Allahabad junction to preserve their memory about their rich experience at Kumbh Mela. Photo: Connected to India
NRI couple taking selfie at Allahabad junction to preserve their memory about their rich experience at Kumbh Mela. Photo: Connected to India

Talking exclusively to Connected to India, Amit Malviya, public relations officer of North Central Railway said, “We are plying four Pravasi Bharti special trains from Prayagraj to New Delhi. We are happy to serve the NRIs and the PBD delegates as they are the ambassadors of India in foreign countries. They should remember their visit to Kumbh Mela and encourage more people to come to India.”

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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