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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 25 - Hindu River Pilgrimage
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 25, Hindu River Pilgrimage. In Hindi, it’s called Kumbh Mela.
In this lesson, we are talking about the Kumbh Mela, an event that takes place once every four years between January and March. The traditions of this festival are linked to the holy rivers of north and central India, and the festival itself is famous for the great masses of people that gather for it.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Why was the 2013 Kumbh festival so significant?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The Kumbh Mela is a pilgrimage, or in Hindi Tirath yatra, for Hindu people, where millions take a sacred dip in the holy rivers associated with the festival. There are four locations for this gathering – Haridwar in Uttaranchal state, Prayag in Uttar Pradesh state, Nasik in Maharashtra state, and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh state. This festival is celebrated once every four years and rotates between these four locations.
The significance of these places is that the holy rivers, or Pavitrr Nadi, of the Hindu religion come together at these spots. Kumbh Mela starts with the Makar Sankranti day in January and continues for forty-five days until Maha Shivratri. According to Hindu mythology, or Pooranik Kathaiye, when the Gods churned the oceans of the world to extract elixir, four drops of this elixir dripped into the waters of these four locations where the festival is held, making them forever holy.
One of the most important traditions of the festival is submerging oneself in the sacred waters at the confluence, which washes you clean of bad deeds and sins. Special tents are erected close to the river bank and spiritual sermons are conducted. Saints, or in Hindi Sant, monks, or Sadhu, and ordinary people gather together for this pilgrimage. Though it gets quite cold during this time of the year, people brave the cold for the chance to purify themselves in the waters.
Hindus consider the river Ganges the most sacred of the four. It is believed that submerging oneself in Ganges absolves people of their sins, and that anything floating down the river will eventually reach the heavens. The river Ganges is considered the holiest place to immerse the ashes of Hindu people after their funeral pyre.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Why was the 2013 Kumbh festival so significant?
For the Kumbh Mela held in 2013, more than one million people gathered together. This was the largest peaceful gathering of people in recorded history.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Does your country have a similar purification festival?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in another series!

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Does your country have a similar purification festival?