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Spiritual moments at the Holy Kumbh
Only Hindus can do this magic. They were magical moments at the Kumbh Mela: Everybody was busy doing his or her own work at this congregation place of a sea of humanity. There was a fear in my mind about the biggest gathering and its crowd. Nevertheless, it was also a motivation that forced me to have this spiritual journey to the Kumbh Mela.

Braving the filth and garbage on the lanes and the degenerated buildings in the old Prayagraj, I was afraid of the sea of humanity crushing me down at the main mela site, rather than blessed with a spiritual experience. My eighty-five-year old mother felt more energetic after touching the soil of Prayagraj.

After hard bargaining, we got a small makeshift guest room, at the rent of Rs.6000/= per day, at Allapur colony, a ghetto type colony, consisting of Muslims, Dalits and poor people, but all busy in making quick bucks.

We all four reached the Gau Ghat and bargained for a boat journey to the mammoth Sangam area. The boatman charged Rs.1500/= per hour. The Sangam, for which Prayagraj is known, is the amalgamation of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati, which is believed to be secretive-underground now. The boats are dilapidated but soon we all got lost in the beauty of the Kumbh Mela. We forgot about all the troubles.

The cold wind was blowing that cleared the fog and the bright sun appeared. There was a new incarnation of the river Yamuna ? it is not the frothing, stinking and slothful cadaver of water that one is used to experiencing in Delhi. The Shyamal Yamuna is very aptly named. It is dim, deep and sweet smelling; its sapphire waters hitting against the boat's sides, thousands of migratory birds, gliding inquisitively around our boat, over the holy waters and occasionally dipping into it. This was the difference between the Prayagraj of a Yogi and Delhi of Kejriwal.

The gentle winds tousled their wings and our hair. I widened out on the boat, watching the huge New Yamuna Bridge cruising diagonally the blue sky. The birds ascending like a rainbow cloud and wheeling and rotating above our boats and heads, in search of eatable titbits.

I never wanted this blissful journey to end but within an hour we reached the main Sangam spot. The amalgamation of the Ganga and the Yamuna in a double coloured pattern was clearly visible but less clear than the merging of the Alakananda and the Bhagirathi in Dev Prayag, Uttarakhand. However, the water is not so clean; here it is almost soil brown.

The boatman astutely drove the boat through the jam of boats, reminding of traffic jams of Delhi and leaving them behind to arrive at the sacred spot where we could take our holy bath. We plunged into the blessed water, holding tightly the ropes tied around the boat.

A small strip all along the Yamuna had been prepared and barricaded off and in that strip, which was mainly slow-moving water. Men, women and children, in different levels of undress, were frolicking in the water and taking the exemplary bath or dubki. Old women with hardly covered breasts and bottoms shuffled into it and carefully dipped their heads into the water.

It was a unique scene. There was no distinction of gender, class or caste. Even no roving eyes were there to look at the scantily dressed young girls.

The ground was wet ? dry straw had been positioned on the sand to keep it as dry as possible. Signboards dotted the area guiding the pilgrims and giving some holy message. There were very simple changing rooms for women, who crowded in there, removing their wet clothes in front of unfamiliar people, but nobody was concerned about others' nudity. This is the wonder that is called Hinduism.

After the Yamuna, we strolled down to the bank of the Ganga. The river was flowing freely; thousands of birds of different hues were gliding on its speedily flowing waters, which was surprisingly very clean. The river meets the Yamuna after taking a curvy turn. This is the real Triveni or Sangam.

Just then, the lights were lit. It was a thrilling experience. The setting sun was like a big red plate. The tired bathers were shining in the orange radiance. The full bright moon shone through the holy water, the assembling nightfall and the thousands of floating lamps gave the waters the facade of lotus floating on it.

We all had a long-cherished wish to attend the evening aarti on the banks of the Sangam, which is observed at the ghats of Varanasi. Here all were rushing for that moment. People were rushing into different directions, like pendulums. All were following each other. All were confident about reaching the right point. This is Bharat and everybody here has confidence in his or her knowledge, which is a beauty. This included the police on horseback, who helped us on yet another pious chase. We had to remove our sleepers. Poor sweepers were guarding the footwear.  The charges were Rs 100 per pair.

Mesmerized and tired, we choose to go back to our hotel. But walking back was a scary expedition.  Three kilometres is a gigantic job when your feet are begging for rest. A poor rickshawalla offered to take us to our hotel for Rs 800! Everybody was minting money, a true Indian character.

But big thanks to Yogi, big thanks to the UP administration, big thanks to UP police and big thanks to priests and all others who helped us for this mesmerizing pilgrimage and helped and blessed us to fulfil this blissful journey. My 85-year-old mother has no words to express her divine joy. She only blesses all with tears gliding on her wrinkled cheeks.

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