This Article is From Jan 18, 2013

Lost, then found at this year's Kumbh Mela

Allahabad: Seventy-year-old Bhan Kumari came with her son to the Maha Kumbh in Allahabad a week ago. She got separated from her family and has been waiting at the Kumbh Mela Lost and Found office for four days now. The good news is that she remembers her address, so the authorities plan to take her home to Jhansi by the weekend.

"I was left behind while walking and got lost. Now I am here and I have no idea where they are," she said.

Bhan Kumari is one of 8,500 people who have been lost from one single camp at the Kumbh Mela in just a week since the festival began. With over 10 crore people expected to visit the Kumbh Mela this year, crowd control poses the biggest challenge for the administration.

A majority of those lost in the mela area are elderly women and children. Those who work at the lost and found office say children pose the biggest challenge as many of them are unable to recall their address. "Many have a language problem but if they see a photo, then there is no problem in recognition," said a worker at one such agency. Those children who could not be reunited are handed over to social agencies.

It is hectic work for those who help lost people reunite with their dear ones. These agencies are usually flooded with panic-stricken visitors from across the country. So, this year, the authorities have resorted to the use of digital cameras - they upload the picture of the missing to their database which helps people who don't even understand the language, identify their family.

And thanks to this, most of those lost were reunited with their families; some agencies even say they have a 100 per cent success rate.

If this system works, the moniker 'siblings separated in Kumbh Mela' would just be left for a Bollywood potboiler.