As the state gears up for Kumbh Mela in January 2019, Allahabad will now be known as its historic name, Prayagraj, announced the Uttar Pradesh government today. Before 1575 it was known as Prayag but when Mughal emperor Akbar visited it, he changed its name to Allahabad. Today, after almost 450 years, it will now be known as Prayagraj again. As per reports the city will be promoted as ‘Prayagraj’ to promote Indian culture on an international scale.
In May this year, we had reported that the UP government led by Yogi Adityanath is considering renaming the city ahead of the Kumbh Mela which will be hosted in the city early next year. Last year, seers from several akharas had met UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and urged him to restore the ancient name of the city. They had claimed that they were confident that the Mahant of Gorakhnath Muth will accept their demand. Some media reports also claim that the banners for the upcoming Kumbh Mela mention the city’s name as “Prayagraj”.
However, soon after Yogi Adityanath declared that if a consensus is reached to rename Allahabad, his government will change its name to Prayagraj, the Congress on Sunday had come out opposing his decision. Congress spokesperson Onkar Singh said that Allahabad had a history attached to it, which has played an important role since the days of Independence and renaming the name of the city to Prayagraj by erasing Allahabad would be an insult to the freedom movement. Onkar Singh further added that if the UP government is very much interested in changing the name, then a separate city of ‘Prayagraj’ can be carved out of Allahabad.
Renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj will be consistent with Yogi Adityanath’s image as a mascot of Hindutva. He has been known to make comments which affirm his pride in his Hindu identity without insulting the faith of people from other communities. Earlier this year, Barsana was painted saffron as Yogi Adityanath celebrated Lathmar Holi there. In another incident, Yogi Adityanath delivered on his poll promise as Hindu families returned to Kairana after he assumed the seat of Chief Minister. On another occasion, Yogi Adityanath reaffirmed his faith in the equal treatment of religions and asserted that he has no right to stop Janmashtami processions if he cannot stop Namaz on roads. Furthermore, Mughalsarai railway station was renamed to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar station.