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Maha Kumbha-2013, Prayaga, Allahabad

A philatelic report

Maha KumbhaPrayaga (Allahabad) is a holy city situated on the banks of river Ganga, Yamuna and mystic Saraswati. It is the venue of great religious fair Magha Mela. It is called magha mela because it is held in the month of Magha (January-February) of the Vikrama calendar. Every sixth year it is known as Ardha Kumbha Mela, and every twelfth year it is known as Kumbha Mela. The antiquity of the Magh Mela can be traced back to the Gupta Period (300-600 A.D.), when most of the Puranas were composed and final redaction of the Anusasanaparva of the Mahabharata was completed. The first historical description of this annual bathing festival is found in the narration of the Chinese traveller Hsuan Tsang, who visited India during the reign of King Harshavardhana.

Sankaracharya is believed to have contributed greatly in the organisation of Kumbha Mela at Prayaga. Initially the Kumbha Mela was celebrated only at Haridwara, but later on it became associated with Prayaga, Nasik and Ujjain. Historians are of the opinion that the Kumbha Mela started approximately after 12th century A.D.

The Kumbha Mela is held at Prayaga, when Jupiter enters the Zodiac Aries and the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn (Makara Rasi) on the new moon day of the Month Magha. Another alternative astronomical conjunction is also followed for the celebration of Kumbha Mela at Prayaga- i.e. when the Sun is in Capricorn and Jupiter moves into Taurus (Vrsa Rasi), on new moon day of the month Magha. The mela begins with Makarsankranti i.e. when the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn, and continues for the month of Magha, both by lunar and solar calendars.

Huge importance was accorded to the organisation of the mela as an entire city comes into existence during the mela period. The United Provinces Melas Act, 1938 was passed by the legislature of the United Provinces. It received the assent of the Governor of the United Provinces on 24 February 1939 and was published under section 75 of the Government of India Act, 1935 on 04 March 1939. More rules were added to the Act on 16 October 1940 by the Governor. Till now the mela organisation is governed by the same act.

Shri Mani Prasad Mishra was designated as the Mela Adhikari for Prayaga Kumbha Mela 2013. Via notification No. 750/XV/K.M. Ald./2012-13 dated 22 August 2012 he notified the boundaries of the Kumbha Mela area of ensuing Kumbha Mela, 2013 at Allahabad. By order No. 1265/XV/K.M. Ald./2013 dated 16 October 2012 the entire mela area was divided into fourteen sectors and a committee was formed to manage the construction activity in the mela area. Supervisors were appointed for each sector via order No. 1293/XV/K.M. Ald./2013 dated 19 October 2012.

The important bathing dates of the 2013 Kumbha mela were :

1. Makar Sankaranti (January 14)
2. Paush Purnima (January 27)
3. Ekadasi Snan (February 06)
4. MauniAmavasya (February 10)
5. Basant Panchmi (February 15)
6. Rath Saptami Snan (February 17)
7. Bhishma Ashtami Snan (February 18)
8. Magh Purnima (February 25)
9. Mahashivratri (March 10)

In the Kumbha mela area ten temporary post offices were opened which functioned from 01st Jan 2013 to 10th Mar 2013.

The details of the post offices are :

S. No.
Post Office Name
Pin Code
ND Code
1.
Central Post Office 211020/211002
-
2.
Sangam (North) 211020/211002
16
3.
Fort Road 211020/211002
17
4.
Sangam (South) 211020/211002
18
5.
Gangdeep 211020/211002
19
6.
Parade (West) 211020/211002
20
7.
Arail 211020/211002
21
8.
Sangam (Central) 211020/211002
22
9.
Jhunsi 211020/211002
23
10.
Jhunsi (Central) 211020/211002
24

 

Central Post Office, Kumbha Mela
Central Post Office & Gangdeep Post Office, Kumbha Mela

Regarding the pin-codes, it is interesting to note that the date cancellers used in all the above post offices bears the pin-code 211002 which is the pin-code of Allahabad Kutchery H.O. but the computer receipts generated for MO/Speed Post/Registry etc. from these post-offices bears the pin-code 211020 which was temporarily assigned.

In addition to the above mentioned ten temporary post-offices, two boats were used as mobile post-offices, which operated in Triveni Sangam, Ganga, Yamuna and invisible Saraswati rivers of the mela area.

Central Post Office, Kumbha Mela
Central Post Office
Gangdeep Post Office
Gangdeep Post Office
Jhunsi (S) Post Office
Jhunsi (S) Post Office
Sangam (North) Post Office
Sangam (North) Post Office
Sangam (South) Post Office
Sangam (South) Post Office
Speed Post cover of Central Post Office (Pin 211020)
Speed Post cover of Central Post Office (Pin 211020)
Speed Post cover of Gangdeep Post Office (Pin 211020)
Speed Post cover of Gangdeep Post Office (Pin 211020)

"My Stamp" scheme was inaugurated by Mr. Krishna Kumar Yadav, Director Postal Services on 25 January, 2013 in a programme organized in Central Post Office situated at Kumbh Mela.

Six special covers were issued by the Department of Posts for the following occasions.

  • Makar Sankranti, 15-01-2013
  • Paush Purnima, 27-01-2013
  • Mauni Amavasya, 10-02-2013
  • Basant Panchami, 15-02-2013
  • Magh Purnima, 25-02-2013
  • Maha Shivratri, 10-03-2013
Makar Sankranti, 15-01-2013
Makar Sankranti Cover
Paush Purnima, 27-01-2013
Paush Purnima Cover
Mauni Amavasya, 10-02-2013
Mauni Amavasya Cover
Basant Panchami, 15-02-2013
Basant Panchmi Cover
Magh Purnima, 25-02-2013
Magh Purnima Cover
Maha Shivratri, 10-03-2013
Maha Shivratri Cover
Mobile Post Offices on boats were made available by India Post between Ghat and Sangam area to provide postal services to devotees while on the way to take bath or boating.
Float Post Office at Kumbh Mela
 
Float Post Office at Kumbh Mela

Acknowledgement - Sincere thanks to Sh. Sanjay Singh (then DPS, Dehradun), Sh. KK Yadav (then DPS, Allahabad), Sh. Manish Pratap SIngh (Scientist DEAL) and Sh. Sunil Thapliyal (Scientist, DEAL) for arranging and posting the covers from the kumbha mela area, Allahabad.

References
[1] Dubey, D.P., Prayaga, The site of Kumbha Mela
[2] Singh Ruchi, Allahabad Kumbha Mela, Glimpses of Rituals and Faith

Contributed by Abhai Mishra, Dehradun

About the Author: Abhai Mishra is an amateur philatelist since 25 years. He is an ardent photographer and has designed over fifty special covers and cancellations for Department of Post. He is actively involved in spreading philately among children at grass-root level through interactive workshops. As a philatelist he specializes in the area of Indian Antarctica and Uttarakhand. He has authored a book titled "Uttarakhand - A philatelic Journey", published by Department of Post, Uttarakhand Circle. He has been to Antarctica with the twenty-first Indian Scientific Expedition as a communication officer.

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