Kumbh Mela is a place where people from different places come together. A place where unknowns becomes known.
The Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years. Further, it accounts world’s largest assembling of people.
The mela (which means “fair” in Hindi) has been held in Allahabad city, also known as Prayagra.
However, in the past two decades, it has developed into a massive event, with this year’s festival.
The kumbh Mela is important to millions of Hindus as they think bathing in the rivers will sanitize them of their sins. This also help them receive “moksha”, meaning liberation.
However, a restrained community known as Kalpawasis, resides on the banks of the rivers for a whole month. They hope to find liberation and spiritual achievement.
For these elderly pilgrims, the festival has taken on a meaning that oversteps even its spirituality. It has become a place where they can meet people of their age and form life-long friendships. Some even call it the place where they “find family”.
Manorama and Girija’s friendship is one such story. They both arrived at the festival in late January, absolutely heedless that the other even existed. After a month, they were best friends.
They say they met while Manorama was re-adjusting her things. It included a worn-out mattress, the icons of gods and some kitchen appliances. She had speckled Girija standing outside and looking on curiously.
“You may want put some hay underneath your mattress because the sand gets really cold in the night,” Girija said.
Manorama says she knew this but still nodded.
“Thank you for the advice. Where are you from?” Manorama asked. But by that time, Girija had started walking away from the tent.
And this is how their friendship started.