Culture & Heritage
Prayagraj played a crucial role in the establishment and expansion of British rule in India. There is no doubt that the history of Prayagraj has run concurrently with the history of the country during and after the British rule. Prayagraj also played a key role in the 1857.
The British added several signature structures to the skyline of Prayagraj. At that time it was introduced to the imperialistic leanings of colonial architecture and led to a combination of the Indo-Islamic genre with the traditional European Neo-Classical and Gothic style— recognized today as the imperialistic Indo-Sarcenic architecture. The ornamental designs of these buildings, as well as many of the buildings in Prayagraj, clearly reflect a beautiful combination of eastern and western architectural styles. The buildings of this time represents the presence of the old usual domes and towers with a modern colonial touch to them.
Colonial influences can be seen in buildings such as churches, educational institutions, residential quarters, palaces and administrative buildings. Some prominent structures in Prayagraj, the erstwhile capital of the United Provinces, are the University of Allahabad and the Allahabad High Court. The All Saints Cathedral is perhaps the finest Anglican cathedral in Asia. A fine specimen of 13th century Gothic architectural moorings it was designed by Sir William Emerson.
The Mayo Memorial Hall in Prayagraj was built in 1879 by R. Roskell Bayne. Depicting the colonial architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries, the hall is situated near Thornhill and Mayne Memorial Library. The hall has a 180 ft high tower and the interiors, which were designed by Professor Gamble of the South Kensington Museum from London. Built in the memory of assassinated viceroy Mayo, the hall used to hold public meetings, receptions and balls.
Prayagraj celebrates a variety of festivals that adds verve and colour to the lives of the people. While some of them are related to religion, the district administration organises a number of cultural and food festivals every year.
The festival calendar begins with the month-long Magh Mela which is elebrated during January-February every year. Millions of pilgrims head for Prayagraj for a holy dip during this period. A tented colony comes up in the mela ground for the Magh Mela. The Ganga Water Rally is an annual feature of Prayagraj. The Water Sports Festival (February) organised by the tourism department involves exciting adventure sports such as Kayaking, Canoeing, etc.
The festival of colours, Holi celebrated in March signifies the change of season heralding the spring season. Soon after Janmashtami, Prayagraj celebrates Dadhikando. During this period, colourful chowkies with live characters of Lord Krishna, Subadra and Balabadra are taken out on procession on Saturday and Sundays for three weeks. The ten-day Dushehra in Prayagraj is known for its Chowkis. The prominent chowkies that carry out decorated jhankis in procession during Dushehra are Pattarchatti, Pajawa and Katra. Deepavali (October-November) or the festival of lights celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama and the victory of good over evil. The city shimmers with diyas and lights. Sangam presents an out of this world on this occasion with thousands of diyas floating on the rivers.
Traditional Fairs & Festival
Annual Magh Mela
The Magh Mela is an annual gathering of Hindu pilgrims in Prayag, on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati). This Mela is held every year during the Hindu month of Magh (corresponding from mid January – mid February) and the important bathing dates are spread over a period of 45 days. It commences on the day of Makar Sankranti in January, which is the first important bathing day. A large number of people arrive here annually and stay in makeshift houses or tents at the Sangam, spending the entire month of Magh in prayers. Every year during this period massive arrangements are made by the Uttar Pradesh Government for the devotees coming to Magh Mela. This include establishment of a temporary tented township, roads, transport services, water supply, electricity and sanitation facilities, medical and policing. Every twelfth year, the Magh Mela is transformed into the Kumbh Mela.
Prayagraj is believed to be the most important pilgrimage centre for Hindus. Traditionally river confluences are regarded as auspicious places, but in Sangam, the significance of the confluence is most pious because here, the holy Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati meet to become one.
According to legends, Vishnu was carrying a Kumbh (pot) of amrit (nectar), when a scuffle broke out and four drops were spilled. They fell to earth at the four Tirthas of Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. A tirtha is a place where the devout can attain salvation. The event is commemorated every three years by the Kumbh Mela, held at each tirtha in turn; the Sangam is known as Tirtharaj, the ‘King of Tirthas’ and here the Kumbh is held once in every twelve years, which is the greatest and holiest of all.
The Maha Kumbh Mela is the largest religious congregation in India, attended by millions. The over month-long fair is marked by the construction of a massive tented township, complete with cottages, huts, platforms, civic facilities, administrative and security measures. It is organized immaculately by the government, the local authorities and the police. The mela is especially renowned for the presence of an extraordinary array of religious ascetics – sadhus and mahants – enticed from remote hideaways in forests, mountains and caves. Once astrologers have determined the propitious bathing time or Kumbhayog, the first to hit the water is by legions of Naga Sadhus or Naga Babas, who cover their naked bodies with ash and wear hair in long dreadlocks. The sadhus, who see themselves as guardians of the faith, approach the confluence at the scheduled time with all the pomp and bravado of a charging army. The most recent Maha Kumbh Mela was held in 2013 and the next is due in 2025.
The Kumbh Mela 2019 is going to be held at Prayagraj from January 15th, 2019 to March 4th, 2019. Below is the table mentioning the important dates of Kumbh Mela.
|S.No.||Name of Festival||Date/Day|
|3||Mauni Amavasya (Somvati)||04-02-2019/Monday|