Seeking a Glimpse Of Immortality In The Waters Of India's Holy Rivers



Seeking a Glimpse Of Immortality In The Waters Of India's Holy Rivers

The Hindu gathering known as Kumbh Mela is on a scale difficult to fathom: The world's largest religious festival is millions of feet shuffling, millions of mantras chanted, countless sales of firewood to ward off the night cold. Millions of incense sticks will be burned and bells rung in devotional rituals called aartis.

Jet-setting swamis, naked holy men and foreigners fascinated by Eastern mysticism joined tens of millions of pilgrims for a dip in river waters believed to be holy.

Tragedy struck Sunday on the biggest day of the 55-day-long festival, when a stampede killed 37 people at a train station ferrying pilgrims home from the Kumbh Mela.

In a single day — this past Sunday — an estimated 30 million people celebrated on the river banks of the city of Allahabad. It's as if the combined populations of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota showed up at the same place, at the same time. These pilgrims have converged on the Sangam — the confluence of three rivers, the Ganga or Ganges, the Yamuna and the so-called mythical Saraswati.

American-born Sadvhi Bhagawati Saraswati is a sanyasi, or a nun in the Hindu tradition. She is a disciple of Swami Chidanand Saraswati and the managing editor of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism, which was released last year.

"Once every 12 years, when the stars, the planets, the moon and everything is in proper alignment, it is considered the most auspicious and divine and sacred time to have a bath in the confluence of these sacred water," she explains, referring to the three holy rivers of India.

In Hindu mythology, Saraswati says, the kumbh of Kumbh Mela is a pot that contained sacred nectar.

"Drops of the sacred nectar of immortality actually fell upon this land and into these rivers, and so people who have come have come to bathe in the nectar of immorality. But nobody thinks that what it means is that cells of their body won't die. Of course they will. Everybody knows that," she says. "So we go home from here with an awareness of our divine and eternal nature. And that's what the nectar of immortality is."

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It is expected that by the final dipping day on March 10, more than 100 million people will have experienced the Kumbh Mela.

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Official Website of Kumbh Mela 2013

Report on The Kumbh Mela.

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This is truly a mystical and incredible event to behold.

Water Is Life.

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