Activists of a local organisation have brought water purifiers to provide pure drinking water to ascetics and pilgrims attending the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela here.
Named 'Waterlife', the machines are available in various capacities with the support of industrial and research organisations, and are being presented as a source of respite for the millions of people who have come to take a holy dip at the Sangam in Allahabad.
"The DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and the Ganga Action Parivar have taken this initiative, so that we can provide pure water at the banks of the Sangam (confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers) through the use of this machine," said Hindu spiritual leader Swami Chidanand Saraswati.
Saraswati added that the purifiers would serve as a cheaper alternative to bottled water.
"This machine can be used in two ways. One, by attaching it to a hand pump, the water can be had for free. Secondly, if it is electrically operated, people can push a 2-rupee coin to fill their bottles, as opposed to the 20-25 rupees they would have to spend for packaged water. This will lead to two benefits. It will reduce the usage of plastic bottles and the polythene bags that they come with," he said.
Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river, the Saraswati.
Officials believe that over the next two months as many as 100 million people will pass through the temporary city that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals.
The festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says that Lord Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality.
In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Every three years a Kumbh Mela is held at one of these spots, with the festival at Allahabad the holiest of them all.
More than 2,000 years old, the festival is a meeting point for the Hindu sadhus or hermits, some who live in forests or Himalayan caves, and who belong to dozens of inter-related congregations. (ANI)