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Thousands throng to US's first ever Kumbh Mela

In the first ever Kumbh Mela held in the US, thousands of chanting Hindus are sprinkled with water collected from Indian rivers, to usher in world peace.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2006 17:01 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Thousands of chanting Hindus were sprinkled with water collected from Indian rivers, in a symbolic recreation of mass bathing during the first ever Kumbh Mela held in the United States.

The spectacular mela was held Sunday - eve of the 9/11 anniversary - at the University of California Irvine's Bren Center with the aim of ushering in world peace by "infusing collective positive energy".

Over 18 organisations from southern California took part in the event, which featured a quarter-mile-long procession with an estimated 4,000 chanting marchers, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The procession ended at Bren Center where a portable pond filled water from 21 rivers in India was created. Water from the pond was later sprinkled on the devotees. Participants were also treated to rice cooked in hundreds of Hindu households that was carried to the university.

"We hope today's celebration, held on the day before 9/11, can bring positive energy and peace to the earth," one of the organisers, Rama Kumar, told the Times.

Considered the most sacred of all Hindu pilgrimages, the mela was held under the auspices of Paramahamsa Nithyananda, Nithyananda Foundation; Swami Ishwarananda, Chinmaya Mission; Swami Sarvadevananda, Vedanta Society; Dr. Acharya Yogeesh, Yogeesh Ashram; and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

In India, the mela is held four times every 12 years and rotates between Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.

Each 12-year cycle includes one Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, attended by millions of devotees making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

According to Indian legend, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together churning 'amrita' or the nectar of immortality from the Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk), and to share the nectar equally. However, when the urn or 'kumbha' containing the nectar appeared, the demons ran away with it. The gods then gave a chase and for 12 days and 12 nights the two sides fought for the possession of the urn.

In the course of the battle, four drops of nectar fell at Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. Hence the mela is held at these four Indian towns.

First Published: Sep 11, 2006 17:01 IST