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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
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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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  • Pritam Go Green

    One of the most prestigious event organised in Hindu community. People from all over the world should come and take a dip into the beautiful ambiance of this festival.

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Millions of people participate in this event and bath in sacred river to wash away their sins.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    One of the holiest event organised by the Hindu community which invites people around the world to come and wash away their sins

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  • Pritam Go Green

    One of the most prestigious event organised in Hindu community. People from all over the world should come and take a dip into the beautiful ambiance of this festival.

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Millions of people participate in this event and bath in sacred river to wash away their sins.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    One of the holiest event organised by the Hindu community which invites people around the world to come and wash away their sins

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The Story Of How Thanksgiving Day Came Into Being

Today, Native Americans commemorate Thanksgiving in different ways.

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Thanksgiving Day
The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. VOA

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest by firing guns and cannons in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The noise alarmed ancestors of the contemporary Wampanoag Nation who went to investigate.

That is how native people came to be present at the first Thanksgiving, says Ramona Peters, historic preservation officer of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which suggests that paintings depicting Native Americans sitting down for a bountiful and harmonious meal with colonial families is basically a lie.

“The Wampanoag people, men, were not really sure what they were being told was actually true, so they stayed around for a few days. They camped outside,” says Peters. “So there was a lot of tension as well, all of these men, warriors, were next door in the woods at night in the dark close by.”

Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving with the Indians by N. C. Wyeth. VOA

While the Wampanoag might have shared food with the Pilgrims during this strained fact-finding mission, they also hunted for food.

What was actually eaten at that first Thanksgiving is far different from the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing that grace many holiday tables today, according to experts at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

“We … know turkey was plentiful in Plymouth Colony, but we don’t know for certain that it was served at the meal,” Plimoth Plantation’s Kate Sheehan told VOA via email. “The likelihood is very strong, though. Mussels, lobster and eel were available as well, and enjoyed by both the English and Wampanoag.”

Plimoth Plantation attempts to replicate the original Plymouth Colony settlement established by the English colonists in the 17th century, and makes educated guesses about what else might have been on the first Thanksgiving table.

“English gardens probably produced cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, colewort (collards), parsnips, turnips, beets, onions, radishes, lettuce and spinach, as well as sage, thyme, parsley, marjoram, fennel, anise and dill,” Sheehan says. “Wampanoag and English women also cultivated beans and squashes, including pumpkins.”

 

Thanksgiving Day
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner often includes turkey, gracy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potatoes. VOA

 

Other foods that would have been available at that time of year include Jerusalem artichokes, wild onions, garlic, watercress, cranberries, Concord grapes and native nuts, including walnuts and chestnuts.

“Native people also dried out-of-season fruits such as blueberries and currants, and added them to dishes throughout the year,” Sheehan says.

Although Americans now celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, historians can’t pinpoint the exact date of the very first Thanksgiving.

“We know it took place over three days sometime between mid-September and early November in 1621, and was considered a harvest celebration following a successful planting of multicolored flint corn, or maize,” says Sheehan.

It wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War, that Thanksgiving became a national holiday. President Abraham Lincoln furthered an idealistic Thanksgiving narrative for strategic reasons.

Thanksgiving Day
In this Nov. 15, 2018, photo, Mashpee Wampanoag Kerri Helme, of Fairhaven, Mass., uses plant fiber to weave a basket while sitting next to a fire at the Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, Mass. VOA

A woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of an influential women’s magazine, had a hand in convincing President Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving holiday would help unite the war-torn country.

“It was a socio-political move to try to reunite the North and the South after the Civil War to have this national holiday,”says Peters, of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. “It was their brainchild to have this national holiday called Thanksgiving, and its popularity grew through time, but it was actually a pretty smart move to establish something to unite families. During the Civil War, a lot of families actually split down the middle, brothers against brothers.”

Today, Native Americans commemorate Thanksgiving in different ways. Some consider it a day of mourning given the rapid colonization and displacement of their people. Others gather with their families, but the Pilgrims aren’t on their minds.

Also Read: Successfully Harvested First Vegetable Crop In The Australia

Peters says native people celebrate a number of thanksgivings throughout the year, at times such as when certain crops come in or a particular fish returns to spawn. Giving thanks is a big part of the Wampanoag members’ spiritual life, she adds.

The tribe, also known as the “People of the First Light,” will have a number of reasons to give thanks this year.

“On a tribal level, we have a chief who’s 98 years old and we’ll give thanks for him still being with us and willing to lead us as a traditional leader,” Peters says. “We will be thankful for the land that is in our care, for the newborn babies into our tribe. We live by the ocean, so we’re First Light people so we give thanks to the bay.” (VOA)