The Day We Visited Kumbh Mela – Allahabad
Allahabad is one of the sacred sites for Hindu pilgrims. Without prior understanding of the significance of the date, we booked our arrival coinciding with Kumbh Mela – a 1 in 144 year pilgrimage festival. Hindus believe that on certain dates – governed astrologically – if they bathed at the meeting point of the Ganges and Yamuna (and a mystical unseen third river) then all their past and present sins are forgiven. Hence those who have bathed will break the kalma cycle and go straight to “heaven”. We arrived in between two “auspicious” dates where the first had 30 million bathers and the second had 20 million (having come from population-sparse Australia it is very difficult to describe the magnitude of the crowds). As a result of the numbers and the belief of the bathing results, people (especially older people) are left to die on the shores of the rivers (sorry no photos of that one for you all).
My colleagues and I have been in India for 5 days now. It has been an extremely encouraging and eye-opening experience. We have spent most of our time at Allahabad Bible Seminary encouraging and being encouraged by the faculty and students. It has been particularly encouraging witnessing how this particular evangelical seminary is having such a great effect in Northern India – through both church planting and training evangelical gospel workers for Northern India.
Please keep praying for us as we continue travelling. Our next stop is our link missionaries!