KURUKSHETRA HAS been bustling with activity ahead of the four-day International Gita Mahotsav celebrations, which kick off on Tuesday.
A team of 200 officials, apart from police and members of NGOs and other associations, are involved in the preparations. Hoardings depicting the message of the Gita have been put up along National Highway-1, leading to Kurukshetra, and roads leading to the venue. A hoarding with a picture of Al Beruni, a scholar from Iran, depicts his description of the Gita as “one of the greatest texts”. President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the event — estimated to cost Rs 15 crore.
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Brahma Sarovar, the centre of the activity, is 3,600 feet long and 1,500 feet wide. The Sarovar is mentioned in the Mahabharata as the place where Duryodhana hid in the water on the last day of the Kurukshetra war. A ‘maha aarti’ will be held on the concluding day, and 18 shlokas from as many verses of the Gita will be recited from 6 pm to 6.15 pm. The shlokas have been made available on YouTube.
While Gita Jayanti has been observed by the government at Brahma Sarovar for years, the celebrations have been scaled up this year owing to the golden jubilee of Haryana’s formation.
Kurukshetra Deputy Commissioner Sumedha Kataria said, “This time, due to the golden jubilee year of Haryana, the government decided to make it an international event. The Gita is revered internationally. It is felt that Kurukshetra, the birthplace of the Gita, should get global recognition.” Apart from the DC, a team comprising three subdivisional magistrates, 50 officers and other officials are part of the team involved in the preparations since June. Around 2,500 police personnel will be on duty. Artisans and traders from several states have set up stalls around Brahma Sarovar.
Surinder Singh Bharti, an advocate, travelled more than 500 km by bus carrying with him a shloka from the Gita and some soil from his hometown. On his maiden visit to Kurukshetra for the Gita Mahotsav, he is one of the 574 people who have travelled from various districts of the country carrying a shloka.
The Gita has 700 shlokas out of which 574 are stated to have been spoken by Krishna while delivering his sermon to Arjun. As part of the Mahotsav, the government has decided to call 574 people from various states. The soil from all the states will be mixed to create an idol of Krishna.
Bharti said, “People from all states are here together. It creates a feeling of unity.” Several events are lined up for the next four days. On Wednesday, 18,000 students will recite 18 shlokas, creating a world record. BJP MP and actor Hema Malini will perform, while a Canadian troupe will be enact Krishna Leela. An international seminar on the Gita will be held, which experts from the US, Canada and Vietnam will attend.