Once every hundred-forty-four years for the Grand (Maha) Kumbh Mela, and I almost missed it. From the LA Times:
ALLAHABAD, India — It’s dusk, and the sun’s rays succumb to the twinkle of amber streetlights at the sacred confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. The day’s last bathers, intent on washing away sins and purifying their souls, take a dip in the cold, dirty water and then relax on blankets and launch boats covered in marigolds.
This is as close to peace and quiet as it gets at India’s Maha Kumbh Mela, a once-in-a-lifetime (well, this lifetime) Woodstock-gone-viral event billed as the world’s largest religious festival. How big? It’s expected to draw 100 million people over 55 days ending March 10….
Held in some form every three years, with the largest crowds at the 12- and 144-year marks, when it’s believed that good karma is strongest, the festival was first written about by a Chinese traveler in AD 634, although its roots are older. Mark Twain, among the first Americans to attend, described it in 1895 as a marvel to “our kind of people, the cold whites.”
Foreigners faced with the sea of pilgrims, pickpockets, beggars, yogis and self-declared god men of this year’s 144-year festival, can relate. “It’s a bit overwhelming,” said Andrea Kjirkby, a British tourist, comparing the carnival atmosphere to an English seaside resort. “But there’s also great generosity. India is extreme. You don’t get ordinary days.”…
If Wikipedia is to be trusted, this Sunday is the auspicious Mauni Amavasya Snan (Main Bathing Day)…
Auspiciously, here inland north of Boston we have power, heat, and essential supplies. While the snow drifts ranged from just-past-my-knees on the front steps to chest-high at the end of the front walk, so far it’s been light enough to shift without doing too much damage to my and the Spousal Unit’s aging, sedentary bodies. So I’m not sufficiently discouraged to want to get off the wheel of eternal rebirth just yet…