Maha Kumbh Mela: Now a Harvard University case study

Maha Kumbh Meala

The Maha Kumbh Mela, considered the largest public gathering in the world, will be the subject of a case study at Harvard University, which will study the logistics and economics behind it and the "pop-up mega-city" that comes to life in Allahabad during the religious event.

A team of faculty and students from Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), School of Design, Harvard Business School, School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Global Health Institute would travel to Allahabad for the project 'Mapping India's Kumbh Mela'.

They would undertake different researches at the Maha Kumbh, which draws millions of pilgrims from across the world every 12 years.

Harvard said a temporary "pop-up mega-city" is created for the Kumbh Mela that would house pilgrims and tourists for the over month-long duration of the religious gathering.

"This city, laid out on a grid, is constructed and deconstructed within a matter of weeks," it said.

Creating this huge encampment entails multiple aspects of contemporary urbanism, including city planning and management, engineering and spatial zoning, an electricity grid, water lines and sanitation systems, food and water distribution plans, hospitals and vaccination centres, police and fire stations, public gathering spaces, and stages for entertainments and plays, the university said.

"This is probably the first time that Harvard is doing something like this, where we've pulled together ... different disciplines in a way that all faculty and students are going to be together to look at a phenomenon," Associate Director of Harvard's South Asia Institute, Meena Hewett, said in a statement.

The Harvard team would seek answers to the "question of 'How on earth is an event of this size possible'," city-based writer Logan Plaster, who would be part of the team visiting the Kumbh Mela, said. "To fully grapple with this question, the scale of the Kumbh needs to be put in perspective."

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