14th January 2013 is the day of Makar Sankranti, which is a harvest festival just like Lohri. Incidentally it falls on this day every year. This is perhaps because it is calculated as per Solar Cycle which is the basis of Christian Calender as well. Astronomically it means that Sun has moved to Capricorn Zodiac. Makar means Capricorn and Sankrant means movement in which two zodiacs of Capricorn and Cancer shall be joined by Sun for a moment, while passing through the one to another. Every 12 years, on this day, largest congregation of human kind takes place on river banks of rivers Ganga (British called her Ganges) (her because she is a goddess) and Godawari at four places. Allahabad is the most prominent place for Kumbh as the Maha Kumbh (Great Kumbh) after every 144th years takes place here alone. Allahabad is intersection (called Sangam which means amalgamation) of three rivers namely Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati. On this occasion people take a holy dip in the waters of Ganga and purify themselves from their past sins This bathing is considered holy according to Hindu Mythology.
According to Mr. Jairam Ramesh the then, Minister for sanitation and drinking water:
Rivers are not rivers in India. Rivers have become sewers. The 500-km stretch of Ganga between Kannuaj and Varanasi is just sewer.
I could not have agreed more. The Yamuna river which flows through New Delhi is so dirty that when we pass the bridge over it, the stench overwhelms us even when the car window is rolled up. In 2006 we went to Haridwar, another mythological town, through which river Ganga flows. The stench was so much that none of us could dip a finger in water. It is said that during the rainy season, situation is better. Now Delhi and Haridwar, both are up-stream towns and therefore at Allahabad, where both the rivers meet, has to be more dirty.
Apart from the illiterate masses, various religious organizations (of so-called hermits) also take this opportunity to show their strength in a rather crude way, on the Banks of river, before taking holy dip.
However my curiosity is that knowing that water is so dirty, has any body taken any steps to either treat the river water or to immunize the bathers against possible ill effect? Though I doubt it.
मन चंगा तो कठोती मे गंगा!
(If intentions are correct, bathing in any water can be holy.)
That includes tap water as well as sewer.
For a Kumbh food dish, check out:
Microwave Chickpeas Snacks Recipe: Wachick
© Sandeep Bhalla
My response to this “take a holy dip in the waters of Ganga and purify themselves from their past sins This bathing is considered holy according to Hindu Mythology” event is the same as yours.
I didn’t need Mr. Jairam Ramesh to verify what I already knew from a distance. I am astonished that anyone cannot wrap their head around the fact that there’s nothing holy about sewage and in fact there’s a whole lot of danger when it comes to bathing in it. I cannot imagine taking that kind of risk with one’s health but then I’m an educated person, who isn’t encumbered with the ignorance like this and other nonsense that’s attached to all religious traditions.
I have a high enough IQ to comprehend that locating a pristine river in India would probably be nigh unto an impossible task. As there are such rivers in Canada I am a member of organizations that are fighting to keep all riparian areas clean.
“(If intentions are correct, bathing in any water can be holy.)
That includes tap water as well as sewer.”
Timethief, you have rightly mentioned about IQ. That is the point. A very large majority visiting Kumbh are poor and illiterate or may be just lettered. They are following a ritual as they live their life without observation or experiencing. So sad that they will be inviting health problems without even knowing it. As regards pristine river, we can only find it up hill. I have visited such place in Kashmir and thanks to you I shall paste a photograph of clear, clean stream, here. Thanks for sharing your views, once again.