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INDIA: French water giant Danone to sell Evian at Kumbh Fair.

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French mineral water company Danone International Brands is to fly its Evian brand "From the Alps" to the Kumbh Mela especially for its VIP guests.

Six hundred guests from the US, UK and France will attend the Kumbh Mela - the largest Hindu festival in India - making it an ideal opportunity to publicise the brand among Indian glitterati. Some of the VIPs expected are Madonna, Sharon Stone, Pierce Brosnan, Demi Moore and Richard Gere.

Pepsi, which claims to have a 60% market share of colas in Allahabad city, has franchised UP Tourism, a government body, to promote its soft drinks in various camps. It recently launched its mineral water, Aqua Fina, and the Kumbh Mela will provide welcome exposure. Bisleri, which is sitting on a cool 50% market share in the water sector is quietly working in the background.

Tea brands are also elbowing each other at the Mela and Levers' Lipton, Tata Tea and Duncan are being actively promoted.

The Kumbh Mela is the world's largest festival and should attract some of the largest crowds ever seen at a religious event. The festival takes place once in 12-14 years, when the planets assume a certain celestial symmetry which they did during a mythological war many centuries ago, between the angels and the devil's forces documented in the Hindu religion.

The Mela attracts 30 million people and all are expected to take a dip in holy Ganges over a two mile stretch of the river at Allahabad, third-largest city of the northern Indian state Uttar Pradesh (UP). The festival lasts almost a fortnight.


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