Pilgrims leave Magh Mela

 Thousands of ‘kalpavasis’ (people who spend a month on the bank of the Ganges at Allahabad during the hindu month of Magh in tents and small huts) were forced to leave the Mela area in droves after rain waters flooded their tents and the local administration failed to make any alternative arrangements.

With heavy hearts, the kalpavasis, including old men and women, from different parts of the state were seen leaving the mela area carrying their belongings on their heads on Sunday and Monday. By Sunday evening about one thousand tents, which had been full of the kalpavasis were completely deserted.

“We are sad as our kalpavaas (the vow to live as a sanyasi) has been broken midway. There is no arrangement here...we have no option but to leave”, said one them.

Scores of angry kalpavasis gheraoed a senior mela official Chandresh Kumar on Sunday demanding better arrangements for them. The official was reportedly held hostage for several hours and was allowed to go only after agreeing to improve the conditions in 24 hours, reports said. The kalpavasis also took the official to their tents and made him see the situation there.

The saints and sadhus also blocked the road leading to the ‘sangam’ (the confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers) in protest against failure of the mela administration to make proper arrangements.

The saints alleged that there was no drainage system in the area as a result of which there was water logging everywhere. The blockade was lifted only after the officials assured to drain the water within a day. Saffron party outfits also staged a demonstration in Allahabad in protest against poor arrangements.

BJP leader Vijay Bahadur Pathak decried the state government for not allocating enough funds for the mela. “The UP government has crores to spend on dance nights by Bollywood starts but it does not have money for making arrangements at such an important religious occasion”, he said.

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