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Farewell Allahabad, Hello Prayagraj

Farewell Allahabad, Hello Prayagraj

Rida Khalid

A historic city in India by the name Allahabad has been renamed as Prayagraj. More than one million people reportedly live in Allahabad located in Uttar Pradesh, where local Indian authorities have reported of the change in name. Head of the state of UP, and Chief Minister Yogu Adityanath is said to have led a cabinet meeting that reportedly decided to implement this change.

He stated: “All the cabinet members were happy and from today onwards, Allahabad’s name would change as Prayagraj.”

Allahabad is located a little away on the South East side of the Indian capital, New Delhi. Allahabad has been home to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as well and was named early in the 16th century by the Mughal rulers.

The new name Prayagraj refers to the joining of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers and the annual Kumbh Mela festival scheduled to occur in January. This festival is attended by more than a 100 million people.

A member of the Congress party has stated that the change of the city’s name is symbolic of India’s freedom from the British rule. Onkar Singh claimed that the city is a representative of various timeless and significant meetings that evidently led to the acclamation of freedom from the British.

Thus, to “finally” commemorate and take ownership of that freedom the decision to change the name was taken.

However, several people are not convinced by the reason stated by Singh. Concerns have been brought forward that this change is the Prime Minister’s attempt to eradicate the rich and long standing history and identity of the country. Considering the struggle of the subcontinent, changing the name of such a significant city does not seem to bode well with various individuals.

It has also been brought to notice that this change could be directed towards the Muslim minority and the fact that it was kept by the Muslim rulers of the Mughal Era. Adityanath, a priest who has recently been appointed in UP is known for his violent attitude towards the Muslims residing in the country. Therefore, the concern that this change is being spurred on by him has also made way into conversations. Adityanath has reportedly also suggested changing the names of several famous and historical Mughal-era buildings located within the country.

Even in 2017, a famous railway junction named Mughalsarai was changed to Denn Dayal Upadhyaya because of the same alleged reason. More so, proposals to change the names of the airports including Bareilly, Kanpur and Agra were also suggested. What these changes signify for the 220 million Muslims living in the country is not being considered. Nor is the historical value of these sites.

India is a country integrated with 80% Hindus, 14% Muslims and 6% Sikhs, Christians and other minorities. It is therefore a secular nation that has repeatedly made anti-Muslim remarks in the past to polarize Hindu voters.

All religions aside however, changing the names of sites that have existed for centuries merely demeans the long standing cultural and historic value of the country as a whole.

Rida Khalid
Rida Khalid

An English Literature graduate with a passion for Psychology. An avid reader, writer, poet (self-proclaimed) and part-time fitness trainer. Currently working with NIC, Lahore. I spin words to make my narcissistic wit sound like diffident profundity. The above feels a lot like braggadocio, meh!

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