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Researching of Kumbh Mela in India Essay

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Updated: May 23rd, 2022

Today’s set of lectures revolved around Kumbh Mela, which is one of the largest cultural events in India, held every 12 years and involves ritual bathing in the four river banks of the pilgrimage sites: Yamuna, Ganges, Godavari and Shipra. I was excited about the premise of the lecture, in connection to social entrepreneurship, various determinants of health, institutional voids, and the ways in which businesses could address them.

The insights shared were very thorough and focused on various issues that mass gatherings of people such as the one of Kumbh Mela have, namely the risks of injury and transmission of the disease. Having been to mass public events before, I felt I could definitely subscribe to most of the ideas presented in the presentation. It is very easy for even a strong and tall person to be swiped in the waves of people and trampled as a result, and the proximity makes it very easy to transfer diseases, as people often have to stand front to back to one another, making social distancing impossible. I feel this is and will be very relevant in relation to the current COVID crisis.

I did feel, however, that the view of Kumbh Mela as a mass gathering was somewhat limited in that it did not take enough account of the cultural dimension of health issues. They kept talking about how any problems revolving around population size should be treated like regular mass public events (World Cup soccer matches are often brought up as an example). The solutions for Kumbh Mela, I felt, operated too much from a materialistic perspective, without taking the spiritual one into view. Ignorance of cultural dimensions is often found in global enterprises, but it is surprising to see it expressed by natives. It is a known fact that religious mass gatherings and health issues happening there (disease, stampeding) are exacerbated by the fact that the celebrations are encouraging physical discomfort as part of the pilgrimage. People, thus, willfully ignore any health issues they might have in favor of strengthening the spirit.

This lack of care towards personal suffering during Kumbh Mela, Ramadan, and other similar religious practices is partly why these holidays are well-known for causing health harm. Treating them simply as mass gatherings, I feel is missing out on a crucial institutional void and a much-needed context for entrepreneurship. Businesses could work together with religious authorities to help improve the health situation and address some of the determinants mentioned.

I did learn much from the lecture, however, and feel that some of these lessons could be applied to address institutional voids in my area. As the COVID-19 crisis worsens, mass gatherings are not only heavily policed but also present a veritable danger to one’s life and well-being. Though the urban environment here is not as over-saturated as in some of the eastern countries, the sheer potency of the virus makes even regular (by western standards) gatherings dangerous. Businesses could address the institutional void and the demand for human interaction by either providing alternative means for the organization of events or increasing health safety to ensure nobody would become sick.

One solution that came to my mind was a full-disinfection chamber for public places – something that could douse a person with some sort of disinfectant or emanation that would kill any bacteria on them, before allowing the person to partake in socially-crowded spaces. As it stands, disinfection efforts in my locality are haphazard at best. Providing an affordable, available, and high standard of disinfection, I think, would be an excellent way to address the described institutional void.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Researching of Kumbh Mela in India." May 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/researching-of-kumbh-mela-in-india/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Researching of Kumbh Mela in India'. 23 May.

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