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  • » 01/03/2007, 00.00

    INDIA

    50 million Hindus expected in Allahabad as Kumbh Mela gets under way



    One of the largest religious gatherings in the world, it is held every six years. The fulcrum of the pilgrimage is the ritual bathing of purification at the confluence India’s three most renowned sacred rivers.

    Allahabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Millions of Hindu pilgrims are heading for the city of Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) in northern India for one of the biggest religious meetings in the world: the Ardh Khumb Mela. The event started today and will last 45 days. It is held every six years and hinges on Sangam, the confluence of the country’s three most renowned holy rivers: Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati. A crucial moment of the pilgrimage is the ritual bathing in the holy waters. Believers are already plunging into its waters regardless of the low temperature and strong wind.

     

    In Vedic Scriptures, it is said that paradise can be gained by living in the confluence of the three sacred rivers for at least three days and liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth may be obtained through purification by swimming in the holy waters at auspicious moments. The precise dates of the festival, based on the lunar and not the solar calendar, vary from one year to the next. The police have warned that the crucial days will be 14, 15, 19 and 23 January.

     

    The Indian authorities are expecting 10 million people to turn up today alone. The government finances the event: tents have been set up across a huge area capable of hosting two million people.

     

    Security is high. "Controlling crowds will be our top priority as we are expecting up to 50 million people throughout the festival,” said a local state official. There are 20,000 policemen deployed across the area to prevent dangerous overcrowding. Many will be in plain clothes.

     

    According to Hindu mythology, gods and demons fought a war for a vase (called kumbh) of divine nectar. Allahabad is one of the four cities where the nectar fell during the battle. The war lasted 12 divine days and thus a complete Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years during which time a meeting is held half-way through, called the Ardh Kumbh Mela.

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    See also

    14/01/2013 INDIA
    India, 10 million pilgrims expected for the beginning of the Kumbh Mela
    For 55 days, more than 100 million Hindus will bathe in the holy waters of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Sarawati. The Kumbh Mela falls every 12 years and is one of the most important Hindu festivals. Hygiene alarm: the high rate of pollution of waterways, the authorities have set up field hospitals and toilets.

    15/01/2013 INDIA
    The Maha Kumbh Mela, a spectacle of extremism and violence
    This was stated by Lenin Raguvanshi, a lay activist in Varanasi. He denounces the participation of Naga sadhus, ascetic warriors who parade armed with swords and tridents, "militarizing" a religious moment as important as that of the Kumbh Mela. It is "urgent and necessary" to prohibit the participation of these individuals, and stand against the caste system, "to give dignity" to Dalits and tribals.

    14/07/2015 INDIA
    As Kumbh Mela starts, ten million Hindu pilgrims expected in two months
    Maharashtra chief minister and Union Home Affairs minister inaugurated the celebrations. Security measures have been boosted to prevent crowd-related incidents. President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) slams government’s double standards vis-à-vis Christian gatherings.

    27/01/2006 INDIA
    In Gujarat Hindu pilgrimage designed to convert Tribal Christians to Hinduism
    Shabri Kumbh Mela celebrations include sacred baths, free books and CDs under the banner "Arise Oh Hindus! Throw out the Christians!" Hindu fundamentalists plan to expel Christian missions to grab tribal lands.

    14/01/2010 INDIA
    Start of the festival of Kumbh Mela, 70 million pilgrims to dip in the Ganges
    More than 250,000 pilgrims dare the cold waters of the sacred river. The three-month-long festival is celebrated every 12 years. Seven people are killed during the first rush to the riverbanks.



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