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Kumbh Mela: One of the greatest Pilgrimages in the World

Millions of Hindu pilgrims come either in groups or individually and celebrate the event with great enthusiasm

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Kumbh Mela Image: Wikimedia Commons

By Pashchiema Bhatia

Kumbh Mela (‘Kumbh’ means pitcher and ‘Mela’ means fair in Hindi) is hosted in four cities – Ujjain, Allahabad, Haridwar and Nasik and held every third year at one of the four places by rotation. According to Hindu legend, during samudra manthan (churning sea to separate nectar and poison), Gods and demons were having fight over the nectar and then Lord Vishnu flew away with the pot of nectar spilling drops of nectar at four different places; where we celebrate Kumbh Melas. It is considered as one of the largest religious gathering where millions of people arrive and bathe in the sacred rivers – The Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Triveni Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Godavari at Nasik and the Shipra at Ujjain. Millions of Hindu pilgrims come either in groups or individually and celebrate the event with great enthusiasm.

Bathing Ghats Of Ganga Image: Wikimedia Commons
Bathing Ghats Of Ganga Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Ujjain, an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, is located on the eastern bank of the Shipra River. It is considered as one of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) of the Hindus. People believe that taking a royal bath in sacred Shipra River on the occasion of Kumbh Mela washes all the sins of previous births and hence the pilgrims consider it as an opportunity to get them revived from the never ending birth cycle. The Kumbh Mela hosted at Ujjain is known as ‘Simhastha Kumbh Mela’. (22 April 2016 – 21 May 2016)
Ram Ghat, Ujjain Image: Wikimedia Commons
Ram Ghat, Ujjain Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Allahabad Magh (Kumbh) Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the confluence of the three great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The Magh Mela is also referred as Mini Kumbh Mela as it is actually a smaller version of Kumbh Mela.

   Also Read: Dismantling Hinduism: Is Kumbh Mela next in line?

  • Haridwar is considered as one of the most sacred places in India and it is situated at the feet of Shiva’s hills; Shivaliks. Millions of devotees take dips in bone-chilling cold weather of holy Ganga at the occasion of Ardh Kumbh Mela.
Har ki Paudi Ganga Image: Wikimedia Commons
Har ki Paudi Ganga Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Kumbh Mela in Nasik (Trimbakeshwar) is celebrated once in every twelve years and is known as Sinhasta. The Kumbh Mela is marked by millions of devotees’ plunging into the river Godavari that is believed to cleanse their souls leading to salvation.
  • The Simhastha Kumbh Mela at Ujjain is currently on-going. The first Snan (Bathe) on April 22 marked the beginning of the event and the last Snan is scheduled for 21 May on the day of Purnima (Full Moon Night).

Watch This Video to know more about what is happening in the 2016 Kumbh Mela in Ujjain: 

https://youtu.be/AuQ63-EdqKs

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @pashchiema

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Korea’s Ayodhya Connection : Lakhs of Koreans Make a Pilgrimage to this Pious City Every Year

India and Korea share commercial ties, trade routes and some cultural similarities. But what if we tell you that the two also share genes and common descendants?

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Ayodhya is also known as the sister city of Korea.
The city of Ayodhya is believed to share more than commercial ties with Korea. Wikimedia
  • Links between Korea and India are not restricted to only present day trade-links
  • Ayodhya has become the epicenter of a religious divide in Korean city of Kimhae
  • Korean government declared Ayodhya as the sister city of Korea in 2001

Ayodhya, August 9, 2017: If you hail from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, would you believe us if we said you might have some distant cousins in Korea? Researchers discovered in the last decade that Korea and Ayodhya have a shared history and traced Korean roots to the pious Hindu city.

It is widely believed that travelers from both these countries not just traded goods but also shared genes. Professor Byung Mo Kim, who is a Professor Emeritus of Hanyang University and a national archaeologist from Korea, believes that he shares his genes with Ayodhya’s royal family. “I hail from Kara dynasty, whose first woman was the princess of Ayodhya, who married the first Kara king. Her brothers went on to become the kings of Ayodhya”, he said explaining his genetic connection to the holy city.

Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh plays host to hundreds of South Koreans every year, who visit the holy Hindu city to pay tribute to their legendary queen Hur-Hwang-ok.

ALSO READ: Mayan, Sumerian, and Mexican: The Untold Link and Similarities to Ancient India

If you are wondering what a Korean Queen was doing in the Hindu holy city, the queen, also known as Princess Suriratna, is believed to have been the princess of Ayodhya before she went to South Korea and married King Kim Suro of Karla Clan in 48 AD. Thus, Professor Kim regards princess Suriratna as the “daughter of Ayodhya” and added that it is in this manner that Ayodhya is their maternal home.

According to Korean legends, the princess was only 16-year-old when she traveled to Korea and got married to King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya and became his first queen. It is also popularly believed that the Princess was the mother of descendants who brought together multiple Korean kingdoms in the 7th century, making Karak the largest clan in Korea. Thus, it is due to this connection that more than 70 lakh Koreans hold the holy city of Ayodhya in reverence as their maternal home.

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The princess is believed to have traveled from Ayodhya to South Korea on a boat, with a stone in her hand that is believed to have calmed the seas on her voyage. The legends also state that it was only because of this stone that she could safely make the journey.

The twin fish stone that the Princess was carrying is the state symbol of Ayodhya and is touted as the biggest clue to the link. Claiming that he has pictorial evidences, the Professor believes the stone to have traveled from the Mediterranean region to this part, eventually settling in Lucknow.

“But the same twin fish symbol can also be seen in ancient buildings in Pakistan, Nepal, China, Japan, and the gate of royal tomb of King Suro in Kimhae city in Korea”, added Professor Kim, reasserting his claim.

Till date, there is very little awareness in India about Queen Suriratna as not much information has been documented. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seol in May 2015, it was announced that the two countries will strengthen their historic ties by enhancing linkages of the Korean population with Ayodhya. A decision was also taken to renovate the monument already in place in Ayodhya, dedicated to the Queen, for which the then-UP CM had asked Korean government to devise a design.


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Seventh Batch of Pilgrims leave Jammu for Amarnath Yatra

The seventh batch of pilgrims which consists of 1748 men, 401 women, and 97 sadhus and sadhvis has left for Amarnath

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Amarnath Cave Shrine
Pilgrimage to the Amarnath Yatra. Wikimedia
  • The seventh batch of pilgrims have departed for their journey to Amarnath Cave Shrine
  • This batch consists of 2,246 pilgrims including 1748 men, 401 women and 97 sadhus and sadhvis 
  • With the departure of the seventh batch, total 25,294 pilgrims have left for Amarnath from Jammu

July 08, 2017: The seventh batch of pilgrims left Jammu on June 7, for their journey to reach Amarnath’s Cave shrine for a darshan of ice lingam. With this batch, the total number of pilgrims has reached 25,294.

This batch is made up of 1748 men, 401 women, and 97 sadhus and sadhvis. The Amarnath yatra began on June 28 from Jammu. The journey is to be done amid multi-tier security with CRPF escorting the pilgrims. The final destination is the twin base camp of Amarnath cave shrine.

10,461 pilgrims paid obeisance at the Holy Cave yesterday, however, lives of 3 pilgrims was claimed. The total death toll number for the ongoing pilgrimage has reached 9.

Also Read: Stones Instead of Cash? Devotees send Stones from Rajasthan for Ram Temple in Ayodhya

A staggering number of 1,15,841 pilgrims have made the journey to visit the ice lingam since the beginning of the pilgrimage. The annual yatra, this year too, has continued despite the terror threats. But it has prompted the authorities to be alert and prepared. The highest level of security measures have been adopted, including the latest satellite tracking system, mentioned PTI report.

Earlier an intelligence source has revealed that the militants have planned to target policemen and the many yatris. The CRPF, BSF, police, and army have all been instructed to secure the pilgrimage. Combined, over 40,000 troops have been mobilized to provide for the security.

Additionally, the center has provided the state with 25,000 personnel. This year’s Amarnath yatra is 8 days shorter than last year’s 48 days.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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10 Hindu Deities You should know about before Your Pilgrimage to India

This rich culture consists of as many as 33 crore gods and goddesses and knowing all of them may appear to be quite exhaustive but it certainly is an enriching experience. If you are planning to go on a sacred journey to this subcontinent, knowing a few of these deities will be really helpful.

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Kali, the Hindu Goddess Wikimedia

April 30, 2017: If you are planning for a holy journey to a land known for its culture and diversity, then certainly you are about to have a life-changing experience. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world and is followed by a many people across the world. Many foreigners flock to India in order to attain peace of mind and solace in the rich culture of this nation. Pilgrimage is one such method to step closer to the god. This rich culture consists of as many as 33 crore gods and goddesses and knowing all of them may appear to be quite exhaustive but it certainly is an enriching experience.

Many foreigners flock to India in order to attain peace of mind and solace in the rich culture of this nation. It is believed by many that pilgrimage is one such method to step closer to the god. This rich culture consists of as many as 33 crore gods and goddesses and knowing all of them may appear to be quite exhaustive but it certainly is an enriching experience.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

If you are planning to go on a sacred journey to this subcontinent, knowing a few of these deities will be really helpful. Here is a list of 10 deities that one must know about on a visit to India-

Brahma, the god of creation; Source- Wikimedia commons

Brahma– The first deity of the Hindu trinity, Lord Brahma is considered to be the god of creation, including the cosmos and all of its beings. Several puranas describe him as being born from a lotus emerging from the navel of the god Vishnu.

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Brahma is traditionally depicted with four faces and four arms. Each face points to a cardinal direction. His hands hold no weapons, rather symbols of knowledge and creation. In one hand he holds the sacred texts of Vedas, in the second he holds mala (rosary beads) symbolising time, in the third he holds a ladle symbolizing means to feed the sacrificial fire, and in fourth a utensil with water symbolising the means where all creation emanates from. His four mouths are credited with creating the four Vedas. The most famous temple of Brahma is in Pushkar, Rajasthan.

Vishnu-God of Protection, Preservation of Good, Dharma restoration, Source- Wikipedia

Vishnu– The peace-loving deity of the Hindu Trinity, Vishnu is the Preserver or Sustainer of life with his steadfast principles of order, righteousness, and truth. When these values are under threat, Vishnu emerges out of his transcendence to restore peace and order on earth. Vishnu’s earthly incarnations have 10 major avatars. The devout followers of Vishnu are called Vaishnavas, and his consort is Lakshmi. Vishnu is popularly worshipped as Lord Venkateshwara in the southern India.

Shiva-God of Creation, Destruction, Regeneration, Meditation, Arts, Yoga and Moksha; Source-Wikipedia

Shiva– The most powerful and fascinating deity in Hinduism, who represents death and dissolution. One of the godheads in the Hindu Trinity, and known by many names – Mahadeva, Pashupati, Nataraja, Vishwanath, Bhole Nath – Shiva is perhaps the most complex of Hindu deities. Hindus recognize this by putting his shrine in the temple separate from those of other deities and worshiping Shiva as a phallic symbol called the ‘Shiva Limgam’ in most temples.

Ganesha-God of New Beginnings Obstacle Remover, Source-Wikipedia

Ganesha– Easily recognizable as the elephant-deity riding a mouse, Ganesha is arguably the most popular Hindu God, and one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha is depicted as having a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshiped as the god of knowledge, wisdom, and wealth.

Hanuman- Symbol of Devotion, Power, Humanity, Protection, Discipline; Source- Wikipedia

Hanuman– Hanuman, the mighty ape that aided Lord Rama in his expedition against evil forces, described in the epic Ramayana, is one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon. Believed to be an avatar of Lord Shiva, Hanuman is worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance, and devotion. In times of trouble, it is a common faith among Hindus to chant the name of Hanuman or sing his hymn – “Hanuman Chalisa”. Hanuman temples are among the most common public shrines found in India.

Krishna-God of Compassion, Tenderness, Love and Beauty; Source-Wikipedia

Krishna– The great exponent of the Gita, Krishna is the ninth and a complete avatar of Vishnu, the Godhead of the Hindu Trinity. Of all avatars, he is the most popular and perhaps the one closest to the heart of the masses. This blue-skinned deity has influenced the Indian thought, life, and culture in myriad ways – not only its religion and philosophy, but also into its mysticism and literature, painting and sculpture, dance and music, and all aspects of Indian folklore.

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Kali-Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction and Power, Source- Wikipedia

Kali– Kali, or the dark goddess, is the fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess Durga. She is depicted as having born from the brow of Goddess Durga during one of her battles with the evil forces. Kali is represented with perhaps the fiercest features amongst all the world’s deities. Her tongue protrudes from her mouth, her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are sullied with blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the chest of her husband, Shiva.

Rama-Rama is portrayed in Hindu arts and texts as a compassionate person who cares for all living beings, Source- Wikipedia

Rama– Rama, the perfect avatar of the Supreme Protector Vishnu, is an all-time favorite among Hindu deities. The most popular symbol of chivalry and virtue, Rama is “the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king.” He is widely believed to be an actual historical figure – a “tribal hero of ancient India” – whose exploits form the great Hindu epic of Ramayana or The Romance of Rama.

Saraswati-Goddess of Art, Knowledge, Music, Wisdom and Learning Source- Wikipedia

Saraswati– Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning, represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the ‘Saraswati Vandana’often begin and end Vedic lessons. The goddess of wisdom, art, and music, she is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. It is believed that goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom, and learning.

Durga- Goddess of War, Victory of Good over Evil,The Invincible One ,Fierce form of Mother Goddess; Source- Wikimedia Commons

Durga- The Mother Goddess — known variously as Durga, Bhavani, Sherawali, Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati, Vaishno Devi — represents the fiery powers of the gods. The name “Durga” means “inaccessible”, and she is the personification of the active side of the divine “shakti” energy of Lord Shiva. Durga is usually portrayed as riding a lion and carrying weapons in her many arms. She is the protector of the righteous, and destroyer of the evil.
Every deity in Hinduism stands for humanity and righteousness. Stories about these divinities may or may not be true but they certainly teach one life lessons and encourage one to walk on the path of goodness.

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6