Maha Kumbh Mela: Now a Harvard University case study
"How do people move en masse? How can the spread of disease be kept in check using minimal technology? The questions aren't new, but by bringing four major disciplines under one tent - literally - Harvard is creating a new strain of dialogue, one which just might be able to keep up with the crush of the crowd," he said.
The "size and complexity" of the Kumbh Mela is inspirational for inter-disciplinary research in a number of complementary fields of urban studies and design, religious
and cultural studies, environmental science and public health, technology and communications, Harvard said.
The outcomes by each school's research team would be presented by students and faculty at a university-side symposium hosted by the South Asia Initiative in the spring semester 2013, and will be submitted for a final visual and textual publication.
Plaster said the religious gathering caught Harvard's attention as it saw the Kumbh Mela as a "unique opportunity to study the formation and inner-workings of a pop-up mega city."
"Where recently there was nothing but a barren flood plain there will soon be a thriving 'city' complete with hospitals, sanitation systems, markets and police.
"The Kumbh has always operated in this capacity, but for a variety of reasons, the 2013 festival represents a significant shift towards seeing the festival as a seminal academic learning environment," he added.
With the Maha Kumbh Mela taking place once every 12 years, the year 2013 marks the first Kumbh which