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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Haridwar prepares for a Kumbh Mela, Anna Hazare to be present

Around five million people are set to gather in Haridwar on November 6 to November 10 to propagate the sacred "Gayatri Mantra" in an event that organizers say will rival the Kumbh Mela.

Also in attendance will be a galaxy of public figures including anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Chief Ministers Narendra Modi of Gujarat and Nitish Kumar of Bihar, and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

Already, some 40,000 volunteers of "Gayatri Parivar" have poured into this holy Hindu city from all over India - and abroad -- to set up a tented township spread over 240 acres on the banks of the Ganges.

The "Gayatri Parivar" was founded by Shriram Sharma Acharya (1911-90), who dedicated his life to popularizing "Gayatri mantra", the foremost mantra in Hinduism whose chanting is said to remove obstacles and increase wisdom and spiritual growth. The syllables of the mantra are said to positively affect all the chakras, or energy centres, in the human body.

"The aim is to spread collective consciousness, for the good of the society," explained spokesperson Divyesh Vyas, 43, a mechanical engineer who quit the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) in 1995 to embrace spirituality.

"The gathering will be an experiment of the amplification of the good things in life, of positive thought, of positive energy," Vyas told IANS. "We want people to recognize the goodness in them by chanting Gayantri mantra."

Once the event starts Nov 6, there will be an estimated 10 lakh people on any given day, taking the total attendance over the five days to 50 lakh. This would include around 2,000 foreigners and NRIs from Canada, the US, Britain, South Africa, Australia, Russia and Thailand.

"Without doubt Haridwar will see something even bigger than the Kumbh mela," added Sanjay Agarwal, a telecom entrepreneur and another key organizer.

But unlike during the Kumbh melas, which are held periodically in four places including Haridwar, no help is being sought or taken from the authorities -- except in the area of security.

Haridwar is already bustling with activity of an unusually high degree. "Our trust plans to spend about Rs.50 crore to set up 24 settlements for visitors," Agarwal added.

According to him, besides providing food, water, habitation and sanitation to the teeming mass, the organizers have set up a 100-bed makeshift hospital with modern facilities, disaster management teams, readied 24 ambulances, and even stored anti-venom vaccines to treat possible snake bites.

Also taking shape is a state of the art media centre.

And in a feat that startled the Haridwar administration, more than 800 "Gayatri Parivar" volunteers constructed an 815 feet long temporary bridge over the Ganges in just 13 days. Three similar bridges have also come up.

A gigantic kitchen is already in operation, employing about 10,000 people to provide food to the 40,000 who are already in Haridwar and the huge crowds who will pour in from early November. It functions from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where are the organizers getting the finances?

Spokesperson Vyas said money had been collected from individuals. "Some people gave away a day's salary and some a month's salary. All over the country many farmers have donated food grain."

He added: "There is no limit to the enthusiasm. Positive energy can do wonders."


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