By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Rishikesh, 25 Jan: The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) and Parmarth Niketan joyfully hosted a celebration of the Nishadraj (boatsmen) of the Kumbh Mela 2019. Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan and Co-Founder of GIWA, and Dr Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, were joined by the Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand, DIG Kumbh, Prayagraj SSP KP Singh, Ravi Bhatnagar, Director, External Affairs and Partnerships, RB Health, and the Head of the Naavik Sangh.
The uplifting event began with the national anthem, followed by a lamp lighting ceremony. The celebration was a joint initiative of the Kumbh Mela administration, Parmarth Niketan, GIWA, Banega Swachh India, Naavik Sangh, and Ganga Action Parivar, which recognises the boatsmen as essential to the Kumbh – without boats and boatsmen, there are no yatris to the Sangam. The faithful are safely and efficiently brought to the Sangam by experienced boatsmen, ensuring an inspiring and refreshing ‘snan’ in the sacred waters. Over 500 Nishadraj attended the event, along with family members and friends. They were presented life jackets provided by Dettol Banega Swachh India as a gift for the service.
Swami Chidanand said, “The boatsmen community is the life saver of the Kumbh Mela – the backbone for the crores and crores of pilgrims coming to the Sangam for their sacred dip. It is wonderful to be honouring their spirit of giving in this holy city. I also applaud the Kumbh Mela administration for its tireless efforts to organise and conduct a safe, clean, and green Kumbh Mela. Each one of us creates a more serene world when people are given ownership to take initiative for their environment and their water.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati added, “As we celebrate the Naavik Sangh, we remember Hanuman’s heroic efforts in building the bridge to Lanka to free Sita. These holy boatsmen are the bridge to the Sangam, offering the many crores of pilgrims safe and blessed journeys to the sacred Sangam to find an inner freedom. Each time a yatri takes a holy dip, the spirit of a boatsman is there with them. Their devotion makes the Kumbh a sanctified experience for all.”
Vijay Kiran Anandji declared, “Each Nishadraj is the first experience that people have of Sangam and of Prayag. You are the Ambassadors of the Prayag Tradition and the Kumbh Tradition. If each Nishadraj serves all pilgrims and yatris with love, compassion and with politeness, their actions can become a testament to our rich heritage.”
KP Singh asserted, “This is just the beginning we still have the entire Kumbh in front of us, so we look forward to serving together and working together to make this Kumbh experience complete, full and unforgettable.”
By OUR STAFF REPORTER