A Million Pilgrims to Visit ISKCON's Camp at Kumbha Mela 2010
Posted November 5, 2009
Over a million pilgrims are expected to visit the sprawling ISKCON camp at Kumbha Mela 2010 in the holy city of Haridwar in India between February and April 2010, which will coincide with the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Lord Chaitanya's acceptance of sannyasa. Kumbha Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world attracting over 75 million pilgrims who bathe in sacred waters to 'cleanse their sins'. Hundreds of religious organisations set up camps at the site of the Kumbha Mela to preach to the pilgrims who stay there for a few days. It is an incredible feat of human logistics and planning led by the Indian Government, which sets up temporary infrastructure for the visiting millions including pantaloon bridges, toilets, medical camps, public announcement systems, food and water arrangements, crowd control and security.
"ISKCON will have one of the largest camps at the Kumbha Mela site," said Sresta das, Vice President of the ISKCON Kumbha Mela Committee. "Our camp will run from the first week of February to coincide with the Shiva Ratri bathing day till April 30."
Activities at the ISKCON camp will include diorama shows, book distribution, prasadam distribution, harinama processions with bullock carts, daily temple programs including mangala arati and sandhya arati, deity worship at the Padayatra cart, health camp with qualified doctors, accommodation for guests, multi-media exhibits and a cultural programme that will feature shows, plays, movies, singing, dancing and lectures. Special arrangements will be made for guests on the "snana days" (auspicious days for bathing).
"One of the key features of Kumbha Mela 2010 is that we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's sannyasa," continued Sresta prabhu. "In March 2010, we are hosting the World Spirituality Week that will bring together important spiritual leaders from around the world and sadhus from various sampradayas as well as ISKCON sannyasis to glorify Lord Chaitanya. Visitors to our camp will be greeted by a 30-foot statue of Lord Chaitanya."
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of ISKCON, laid importance to the Kumbha Mela. He stayed at the ISKCON camp at the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad in 1977, and said, "Kumbha Mela is sat-sanga. If you go to Kumbha Mela to find out a man of knowledge, then your Kumbha Mela is right. Otherwise, yad-buddhih salile sa eva go-kharah. If one thinks that this salila, the water, to take bath in the water, is Kumbha Mela, he is a go-kharah. But the real [Kumbha Mela means:] 'Now there is an assembly of so many saintly persons. Let me take advantage of their knowledge'."
The ISKCON Kumbha Mela Committee requests the worldwide devotee communities to attend and serve at this event, which is one of the most important preaching platforms for us. We have set up a rota system for volunteers to come and help at the site. We need volunteers in all areas of our camp: for cooking and distributing prasadam, for managing the cultural programmes and participating in them, and for the book distribution as well as the stalls. We also need devotee doctors who can stay at least for a week over the 8 week period and manage our mobile hospital for visiting devotees and pilgrims. We need enthusiastic preachers, singers and musicians. We will also welcome plays, dance performances, multi-media shows and other forms of devotional entertainment from temples around the world.
Devotees wishing to volunteer their services at the Kumbha Mela camp can contact the Kumbha Mela Committee by email at email@example.com. Those who wish to stay at the camp can send the attached Accommodation Booking Form to the same email. The accommodation includes tents, bathrooms, bedding and prasadam of a clean and hygienic standard. Charges are nominal. Reserving a European-plan tent (a family sized tent with double lining on all sides) costs Rs. 12,500 for three days (includes bedding, attached bath, hot water and full prasadam).
For more information about the Kumbha Mela, contact Ramesh Kallidai, International Communications Director, Kumbha Mela 2010 at firstname.lastname@example.org.