Behind the massive show of religious devotion is a quiet secular machine that services the millions who pour into Allahabad for the Kumbh Melas. The details are mind boggling. The crowd on the main days is large enough to be visible from space satellites. Some 25,000 tonnes of foodgrains are sent to feed the pilgrims. About 700,000 tents are erected to house the visitors. Pipes have to be laid so that clean drinking water is available. A temporary super-specialty hospital has been built for anybody who falls seriously sick. Thirty-one police stations and 41 police check-posts have come up to maintain law and order. Massive television screens flash information about missing people. Thirty-six fire stations will get into the act in case there is a conflagration.
The entire effort is so unique that it has attracted the attention of Harvard University. Six of its departments are collaborating to understand the Kumbh Mela phenomenon: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. More:
South Asia Institute at Harvard