Monday Afternoon News: 10 Million People Bathe in Allahabad’s Rivers
It’s the beginning of Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival—and the largest gathering on earth— that occurs every 12 years and lasts for 55 days. Millions of Hindus make the pilgrimage to the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in Allahabad, India, where they cleanse their sins in the rivers’ water.
For festival-goers, one of the most memorable spectacles of the day was when the Naga sadhus, or ascetics, sprinted into the river reciting religious chants, many clad only in marigold garlands.
The naked ash-smeared men arrived in a colourful procession and waded into the chilly waters of Sangam - the point at which the rivers converge.
The Kumbh Mela has its origins in Hindu mythology - many believe that when gods and demons fought over a pitcher of nectar, a few drops fell in the cities of Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar - the four places where the Kumbh festival has been held for centuries.
Although the gathering is held every 12 years, this year’s festival is what is known as a Maha Kumbh, which only occurs every 144 years and is always held at Allahabad. It will last for 55 days, a period of time determined by an astrological calculation
There are six particularly auspicious days during the festival—the next one being Feburary 10—when 35 million people are expected to bathe.
For the final night of the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival earlier this month, guests were taken by boat to savor a final screening on a floating cinema designed by Beijing-based architect Ole Scheeren. Scheeren’s Archipelago Cinema consisted of a floating screen, cradled between two towering rocks, and a separate raft-like auditorium, together offering a spiritual and vaguely primordial cinematic experience.
And once it has finished showing films, the structure will be remodeled. Made with recycled and reusable materials, the theater will one day function as a stage and playground for community children.
Grasping to explain this appeal, Comentale and Jaffe point to a minor character in the film: “The Stranger,” portrayed by Sam Elliott, a veteran of numerous Westerns. Dressed in traditional cowboy garb, he emerges occasionally to provide background information, analysis and commentary. In their words, “he just points at something interestin’ and gently nods” — a watch-and-learn stance that is the foundation of academic research. The Dude abides, but The Stranger annotates.