Continuation of our series dedicated to the religious paths of the world and zoom today on India, where pilgrims travel in waves of several million people!
The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage that occurs every 3 years in one of the various holy places of India: in Nasik, Ujjain, Prayaga (Uttar Pradesh) and Haridwar. Each Hindu is supposed to realize a cycle of twelve years, with for the last stage, Allahabd, the meeting of the Ganges and the Yamuna. The Kumbh Mela is impressive to say the least: the villages and monasteries of the whole country start, at every street corner there are processions of hermits, faithful, city dwellers and monks, converging by millions, feet naked and bare, towards the banks of the Ganges. A true blessing that purifies the body and mind, the ritual bath in the sacred river cleanses the believer from his sins and delivers him from the cycle of reincarnations. It is estimated that in 2001, 70 million people took part in this ceremony,
The Chardham Yatra is a pilgrimage that requires visiting all the sources of the Ganges and its tributaries, in order of importance. At each stage, large parades are organized where the representatives of particular sects or branches of Hinduism parade on horses or elephants, welcomed under a shower of petals. Another very popular tour is the visit of the different dwellings of the god Vishnu: the Chardham . This pilgrimage is particularly beautiful since it crosses the whole country, but it is also one of the longest!
Buddhists also represent a very important religious community in India and they all hope to have the opportunity to visit the 4 sacred places related to the life of Gautama Buddha: Lumbini, actually located in Nepal, traditional birthplace of the Buddha; Bodhgaya, in the Northeast of the country, where Siddharta Gautama attained enlightenment; Sarnath, in Uttar Pradesh, where he delivered his first sermon and Kusinagar, also in Uttar Pradesh, where Buddha was cremated after his death. Throughout this pilgrimage, we discover beautiful relics, stupas and other buildings dating from the 3rd to the 5th century BC.
See you next week in the Middle East for the rest of our series dedicated to the pilgrimages of the world.