Kumbh Mela: Paradise for Sinners
This post is very late from the perspective to cover the Kumbh Mela, the biggest gathering of pilgrims in world for a common purpose to wash off their sins by having a dip in holy confluence of river Ganges, Yamuna and invisible mythological river Saraswati. Much water has been flown in Allahabad since the first day of Kumbh, i.e. January 14, 2013 and tomorrow will be the last day of 56 day long Mela. It would be premature to say how much the sins of public at large were washed off in the polluted rivers of Allahabad. Frankly speaking, I waited to see how much purity was gained by pilgrims by just having a bath in holy rivers. According to me two major tragic incidents occurred during Mela period, one was the unfortunate stampede on February 10, 2013 which caused death of 36 pilgrims at Allahabad railway station and second incident has nowhere link to Allahabad’s Kumbh Mela but still I think it is related to the sins of local people, the incident of daylight murder of one righteous, honest Police officer, just 70 km away from Allahabad and there were killings of one elected representative of village and his brother. I deduce from such criminal activities that those who did such killings may wash off their sins by having a dip in holy rivers and those meek, invertebrate people who were silent witnesses to such killings and who will say in Police investigation that they were not present at the scene of crime to save themselves from the ire of gangsters and royal politicians and long lasting court proceedings. Anyway, by these incidents the river of Ganges and Yamuna had not stopped flowing and there are few enlightened people who say that having a dip in such rivers is akin to dip in open sewers and a fierce mouthpiece of environmentalism, Down to Earth magazine has termed the Kumbh Mela as rape of rivers.
And it’s really amazing to know that the festival of Kumbh Mela is more ancient than the Hindu religion itself. In Vedic era, the mode of worship was doing penance in secluded place of a forest or Himalayas and rituals included the sacrifices or yagyas. And pilgrimage was to take a holy dip in one or more river out of seven sacred rivers, viz. Indus, Saraswati, Ganges, Yamuna, Kaveri, Narmada and Godavari. Kumbh Mela comes every next three year to four different places viz. Allahabad, Nashik, Ujjain and Haridwar. Hindu religion is known for its festivities, polytheism, huge temples, and age-old traditions. Ironically, the largest gathering of people on earth for one and half a month in the holy city of Allahabad has none of the basic feature of Hindu religion.
Though I am not a great admirer of Hindu religion but I do respect the faith or blind faith of crores of Hindus who are following age-old traditions piously. Contrary to popular beliefs that men used to do sins before taking a holy dip in Ganges, the majority of crowd are middle class and poor men & women who live with meagre means and that too from hand to mouth but they are religiously following their religion, no matter if they don’t know that it is written in Mahabharata that the real pilgrimage is to forgive and to reconciliate as told by Krishna to Yudhisthira.
© Sushil Kumar
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