With a week to go before it formally begins, the Kumbh Mela in Nashik has courted controversy amid reports that condoms have been provided in large quantities in anticipation of lakhs of people visiting the holy congregation.
Those associated with the festival, however, are furious with the media reports. It is also being reported that authorities are dispatching around 5.40 lakh condoms to Nashik to meet the growing demands.
Incidentally, this is double the amount of condoms the district consumes in a month. Purists are angry at the idea of linking condoms to a festival that is revered by sadhus, aghoris and the like.
“There is nothing wrong in creating awareness about use of condoms to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. However, the same should not be done using the pretext of Kumbh Mela. Doing so would hurt the sentiments of lakhs of devotees who come for the holy dip,” Mahant Sudhirdas Pujari of Nashik was quoted as saying in DailyMail India.
“First of all reports of supplying 5.40 lakh condoms to Nashik is not correct. The numbers of condoms that are being supplied to Nashik are 2.60 lakhs and this has nothing to do with the Kumbh Mela being held there,” said Kushalsinh Pardeshi, the project director of MSACS.
“Like Nashik, all other districts in Maharashtra also receive condoms that are distributed to people, including the high-risk category, through the NGOs. Every month 68 lakh condoms are distributed free of cost across the state,” Pardeshi added.