Aug 15

Are you washed?

In the Godavari River?

There is, apparently, something primal in being submerged in water and ritual washing. Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, Shinto, Taoism, and the Rastafari movement all have some form of ritual washing. In some faiths the dead get washed and in Hindusim even the gods, or at least their statues, sometimes get immersed as part of a religious festival.

Kumbh Mela is a tri-annual religious festival in which pilgrims travel to a holy river (one of four that take turns being the site every third year) to bathe for the forgiveness of sins. In 2013 it was estimated that at the last event 100 million people participated.The pilgrimage is held for about one and a half months at each of these four places: it is believed in Hinduism that drops of nectar fell from the kumbha carried by gods after the sea was churned. Bathing in these rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins. The name Kumbh Mela comes from Hindi, and in the original Sanskrit and other Indian languages it is more often known as Kumbha Mela. Kumbha means a pitcher and Mela means fair in Sanskrit. The oldest record of one of these events dates back to 644 CE (AD).

After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites."

In addition to ritual bathing over the course of several months other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized.

If you feel the need to have your sins washed away with about 75 million other people that main bathing day this year is September 13th.

Don't miss the pictures in the above link.

Leave a Reply