Uttar Pradesh, a 'great Kumbh Mela' ahead of elections

The event, part of lead up to May 2019 elections, will be held from January 15 to March 4, 2019. The place chosen is Prayagraj, new name of the city of Allahabad. Hindu holy man Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of the state, was the face of the election campaign recently lost by Bharatiya Janata Party.

Lucknow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - With an eye on the upcoming elections to be held throughout India in May 2019, the Hindu nationalist government of Uttar Pradesh is organizing the largest Hindu pilgrimage in the world. Scheduled for next year, the "great Khumbh Mela", will take place at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers from January 15 to March 4, 2019. In all, around 150 million pilgrims are expected.

At Prayagraj, where the event will take place, there is great fibrillation of preparations. The organizers are erecting temporary piers, 600 kitchens, 100 thousand chemical toilets, thousands of tents that will host the pilgrims for the duration of the event. Ascetics, mystics, nude santons are expected, as well as one million foreign tourists.

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage that takes place every three years in rotation in four different locations: Allahabad (Prayagraj), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Every 12 years, at the end of a complete cycle, in Allahabad takes place the Maha Kumbh Mela (the "great" Kumbh Mela) which, attracting tens of millions of people, is considered the largest mass gathering in the world.

The real "great" Kumbh Mela should have been held in Uttar Pradesh in 2025, while a halved version, "Ardh" (half), was scheduled for next year. But with the elections at the gates, the government led by Hindu guru Yogi Adityanath, a leading exponent of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), has decided to bring forward the demonstration to attract the attention of Hindu voters to Uttar Pradesh and nationalists.

According to experts, the goal is also to regain ground after the recent beating of the BJP government party in three key states, which caused great confusion in the administration in New Delhi. The saint Adityanath was the political face of that electoral campaign, taking part in over 70 rallies. To gain the favor of the Hindus, he decided that the pilgrimage will be held in Prayagraj, the new name of the city of Allahabad, recently renamed by its administration because the ancient term "sounded too Islamic".