01/15/2019, 17.19
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Pilgrimages and pseudo-science as India’s election approaches

The Kumbh Mela, the largest Hindu gathering in the world, opened today in Allahabad. Earlier this month, a scientist at a congress said that scientific phenomenon would be named after Narendra Modi. Mythology and tradition are being reinterpreted from a nationalistic point of view.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India’s Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is playing up two distinct fields – religion and pseudo-science – in order to win the general election in April-May.

An example of the first is Kumbh Mela (festival of the pot), the largest Hindu gathering, which opened today in Allahabad, whose name was changed to Prayagraj because it was too Islamic-sounding).

The Hindu festival will last until 4 March. At least 120 million people are expected to immerse themselves in the sacred waters at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers to cleanse away their sins.

Today, at dawn, at least 3.3 million pilgrims began immersing themselves for the purification ritual. The festivities began with a parade of coloured chariots of the 13 congregations (akharas) of sadhus (ascetics). Their bodies smeared in ashes, they went down to the river.

As for the second, a few days ago, the 106th Indian Science Congress was held, during which some participants criticised the scientific theories of great scientists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. One participant suggested renaming gravitational waves Narendra Modi waves. This reflects the government’s desire to see science reinterpreted along Hindu nationalist lines.

Some conference participants cited some Hindu sacred texts and epics as "proof" of scientific progress in antiquity, so as to make India a pioneer of civilisation.

Gollapalli Nageswara Rao, a professor of inorganic chemistry, delivered an address in which he referred to a tale in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata that mentioned one hundred Kaurava siblings. For Rao, this was possible thanks to stem-cell technology and in vitro fertilisation.

At another session, Kannan Jegathala Krishnan claimed that Newton had not understood gravity in full because he had been unable to explain the “gravitational repulsive force”. In the future, Krishnan said, gravity would be understood in the new light provided by his theory, and “gravitational waves” would be renamed Narendra Modi Waves.

Following along the path of glorifying Indian cultural heritage, another speaker claimed that King Ravana, who in the Ramayana saves Lanka from the tyrannical rule of Kubera, had 24 planes and could launch missiles.

Christians, Muslims and Jews were also mentioned at the conference. According to the Bible, the story of Adam in the Garden of Eden takes place where four rivers flow from a mountain. Those four rivers could be in Pushkar, in the State of Rajasthan, and Noah's ark may have gone aground in the Jalore area.

All this, Hindu experts say, suggests that Jewish, Christian and Muslim prophets may have lived in India and only later emigrated to Israel.

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