Ganges draws millions for fest

2010-04-13 21:23
An Indian Hindu family takes a holy dip in River Ganges during the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar, India. (Kevin Frayer, AP)

An Indian Hindu family takes a holy dip in River Ganges during the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar, India. (Kevin Frayer, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Haridwar - Millions of Hindu pilgrims gathered in makeshift camps on the banks of the river Ganges in India on Tuesday ahead of the climax of the world's largest religious festival.

The Kumbh Mela, which is held every three years and rotates among four Indian cities, attracts huge crowds of devotees who believe a dip in the river cleanses them of their sins and frees them from the cycle of life and rebirth.

Statistics behind the three-month event are staggering. Forty million people have bathed in the Ganges at Haridwar and at neighbouring Rishikesh town since January 14, Ashok Sharma, a senior press official at the Mela, said.

He said 6.7 million had already assembled for the "main royal bathing day" on Wednesday, when 10 million people are expected to immerse themselves in a stretch of river 15km.

The attendance figures are impossible to verify and some observers suggest they are exaggerated by the host city, but previous Kumbh Mela events are thought to have attracted similar numbers.

"There is no such thing as special treatment for anyone here," Sharma said. "All people have to come to the river on foot. You can't drive or fly to the river by helicopter, no matter who you are."

Wild holy men


The Kumbh Mela (Pitcher Festival) draws Hindus from across India, who arrive carrying cooking utensils and thin blankets, and who stay in makeshift encampments to make repeated trips into the sacred water.

Central to the colourful proceedings are the Naga Sadhus, wild holy men who leave their Spartan lives in India's remote mountains and forests to lead bathing on the four main Kumbh Mela days chosen by astrologers.

Naked, sporting long dreadlocks and covered in blue-grey ash, they will enter the Ganges on Wednesday morning at the Har Ki Pauri ghat - steps leading down to the river - in the centre of Haridwar.

The ghat is the exact location where the river is said to leave the Himalayan mountains and start its long journey across the plains of north India before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

It is also where, in Hindu mythology, a few drops from a pitcher, or pot, containing the nectar of immortality fell during a fight between gods and demons.

The other drops fell at Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain - the other Kumbh Mela cities.

Read more on:    india
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training

We've gone through the trouble of highlighting what local businesses should look out doe when their employees undergo driver training.

 

Stay safe

Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
Need a family ride? SA's top Mommy Cars
Mom's driving-school dream come true
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to be light and jovial at the moment as the list of obligations and jobs are growing and your energy levels are...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.