Toxic agenda

Alan Morinis

In February, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, had expressed his great joy at the revival of the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in the locality of Tribeni in Hooghly district, West Bengal. At the time, Modi said, “[D]o you know why it is so special? It is special, since this practice has been revived after 700 years… Two years ago, the festival has been started again by the local people and through ‘Tribeni Kumbho Porichalona Shomiti’. I congratulate all the people associated with its organization. You are not only keeping alive a tradition, but are also protecting the cultural heritage of India.” (

The historical fact is that there never was a Kumbh Mela at Tribeni, and the so-called ‘revival’ is based on falsified research. I say this with confidence since the source of this disinformation is a sentence in my doctoral dissertation at Oxford University that someone doctored and then circulated widely. My research focused on pilgrimage traditions in West Bengal and is available on the internet in digital form from the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Someone with an agenda got hold of my dissertation and reworded the page where I discuss Tribeni to say what they wanted to say, not what I had written based on my years of research on the subject….