My plan to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention came by due to my love for travel and seeing new places. The programme of PBD, which included the city of temples Varanasi along with a visit to Kumbh followed by watching the Republic Day parade live sealed my decision to attend.
My most memorable experiences include watching the Ganga Arti, visiting the Ghats, the Baba Vishwanath temple, the place of Buddha’s first sermon - Sarnath, boating on the Holy Ganges and taking a dip in Triveni Sangam (Kumbh-Prayagraj) and watching the Republic Day parade. With such a packed itinerary across three cities in six days, it was only natural that the attendees would get a great return on their investment, both cerebral as well as financial.
The arrangements made by the organisers in terms of food, accommodation, travel etc were impressive, especially given that they had to be juggling inserting a group of Pravasis into two of the largest festival gatherings in the world in two different cities. The security and logistic arrangements alone were sure to be complicated.
For instance, about 3,000 PBD delegates arrived in Prayagraj in about 80 special AC Volvo buses amidst high security and accommodated in the Indraprastham Tent City, established on the plains of river Ganga and Yamuna to accommodate NRIs. About 5,000 luxury tents were spread over an area of 100 hectares consisting of villas and dormitory style tents in the Arail ghat area. They were equipped with all modern facilities similar to five-star hotels. Facilities liked food courts, restaurants and entertainment centres have been specially designed for pilgrims.
It was an amazing experience; we had dedicated cars, liaisoning officers, no queues in temples for direct darshan, Indian local food provided including Banarasi Paan, visits to all local attractions. The accommodations were superb and hospitality excellent, efficiently arranged and above my expectations.
Now that the PBD is a biennial event, I can hope that the organisers will have the time to make sure future events are as well-organised and memorable as the current one. I'm expecting many more such PBDs for connecting the Indian diaspora to India and their roots so that we are more confident to invest in India and its future and at the same time become more knowledgeable and grateful for our culture and heritage.
To sum up my experience, I would like to praise the amazing effort and hospitality. We were given a warm welcome in the Indian tradition where the 'Guest is equivalent to God'.
We got an opportunity to be blessed in this holy land under the leadership of Prime minister Narendra Modiji. The Modi government has taken many innovative decisions for the betterment of the country like 'Clean India', 'Jan Dhan Scheme', 'Ujwalla Yojna', 'Ayushman Bharat' and 'Clean Ganga Mission' which have had a direct impact at the grassroots level of the country and have enhanced the lives of millions of people in India.
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