Allahabad was officially renamed as 'Prayagraj' on Tuesday. The decision was announced by the Yogi Adityanath-led government, which formally re-christened the name of the holy city to Prayagraj on October 16. The decision to change the name of the city comes into effect immediately, as announced by the UP Health Minister, Siddharth Nath Singh.
Singh said, "This (renaming) was done on the insistence of the public and the saints of Allahabad. In a meeting regarding the Kumbh Mela two days ago, the chief minister had also insisted on the same. Another thing discussed today was that the renaming should be done before the Kumbh Mela, so it is very pleasing that the city will be known as Prayagraj from now on."
Reportedly, the city has always been 'Prayag'. Reinforcing the long history attached with the holy city, Singh also added:
"The city used to be known as Prayagraj since the beginning. Around 500 years ago, the name was changed. To those who are opposing the decision, how would you feel if the name your parents gave you was to be changed?"
The minister elaborated on the importance of the word - Prayagraj. He said that 'Prayag' meant a point where the three rivers meet. Singh emphasized the importance of the city in the Hindu religion. He reiterated that the city was significantly named as 'Prayagraj' in the Hindu scriptures like the Rig Veda, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
"When the history attached with the name is so deep and important, I suggest the ones opposing the renaming should consider their views once again," Singh said.
Prayagraj, formerly Allahabad, is central to the Hindu religion - being one of the four places where the 'Mahakumbh' is held. The name 'prayag' basically means 'place of offerings'. It is a point of 'sangam' i.e. meeting, of the three rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Once called 'Kaushambi', the city served as the provincial capital during the Mughal Empire. It is mentioned in 'Akbarnama', that Akbar was so fond of the 'Imperial' city that he renamed it to Ilahasbas or Ilahabad - in honour of Allah. Consequently, it became Allahabad, under Shah Jahan in 1584.
Here's what the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath had to say on the renaming of the city:
"The Mughals changed the name from Prayagraj to Allahabad. The only ones opposing the name change are those who do not know anything about the history or traditions of the place. Prayagraj is the symbol of undeterred faith and devotion of the people. And the people are with us."
(With ANI Inputs)