Kumbh Mela TV rights plan on hold

5th Sep 2012

Indian religious leaders have opposed a plan to sell media rights to the world's biggest religious festival, according to reports.

State government officials had hoped to offset the costs of the annual Kumbh Mela festival by auctioning off media rights to the highest bidder, but have been forced to put the plans on hold.

The ancient Hindu gathering attracts millions of people to the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India, with the state government having to provide sanitation and security for the masses.

Held on the banks of the River Ganges each year, the event broke the record for the biggest human gathering when more than 40 million people flocked to Allahabad for the main bathing day in 2001.

"The proposal to commercialise the Kumbh Mela has not been approved," Uttar Pradesh's Development Secretary Praveer Kumar told BBC Hindi's Ram Dutt Tripathi.

Despite putting the plans on ice for the time being, state government officials have yet to formally abandon the idea as they assess the objections from Hindu leaders in Allahabad - one of four locations for the festival.

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