Allahabad, renamed Prayagraj, has barely gotten over the Kumbh Mela hangover. Some 22 crore devotees visited the religious congregation, the organisers say. It even made its way into the Guinness records for the largest crowd management and sanitation drive. The city was decorated with graffiti on Kumbh and ‘cultural heritage’ of the region. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath monitored much of the arrangements. Appreciation for the organisational marvel flowed from all quarters.
But the bedecking of the city for the Kumbh did not please some. Yash Malviya, a 56-year-old poet, bemoans the corporate treatment of the earthy fair, “A festival was turned into an event. Political appropriation of the Kumbh to this extent has never happened. Houses were razed and street vendors were displaced.” He is even more upset with the rechristening of the city, “I’d rather die than accept its new name. My city was never so communal. It belongs as much to Akbar Illahabadi as it does to Suryakant Tripathi Nirala.”