Kumbh Mela
Naga Sadhus at River’s Edge. AP Photo

Millions gathered in celebration of the Ardh Kumbh Mela this past weekend, along the riverbank where the spiritual Ganga, Saraswati and Yamuna waters converge.

The area in and around Allahabad will welcome about 70 million visitors to the festival in the coming weeks (some suggest Sonia Gandhi will be among the bathers again this year)

Last Friday, when astrologers determined that 6.10 AM was the most auspicious time to take a dip , millions, “undeterred by numbing winter temperatures” took the plunge.

But, as NPR’s All Things Considered reports, many pilgrims are angry that the waters have become incredibly polluted (due to industrial and human waste that continues to be drained into the river).

The award-winning 2004 film Short Cut To Nirvana: Kumbh Mela documents the journey of pilgrims (including that of an American couple Justin Davis and Dyan Summers). It is now out on DVD.

The Kumbh Mela began on January 3 and will continue until the 16th of February.

January 24, 2007
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