Friday, January 19, 2007

Hindu Bath

Two million people are expected to bathe today in in the river Ganges in northern India on the main day of the Ardh Kumbh mela festival. That will make 18 million people in the last two weeks!

From the BBC:

The Mauni Amavasya is a day when sun, moon, Venus and Mercury are in the zodiac of Capricorn, a rare but perfect alignment of planets, devotees believe.

One pilgrim, Shri Mahant Vindgiri, explained why the day was so special.

"The planetary alignment is such that sun rays, when they fall on the Ganges, turn the river water into nectar. So bathing here today is equivalent to drinking nectar," he says.

Some say all amavasyas - or new moon nights - are auspicious for bathing in the Ganges, but Mauni (silent) Amavasya is also special as many pilgrims do not speak until they have had their bath.

"It is believed that on this day taking a bath without breaking your silence will bring the benefit of performing millions of yagnas [ritual offerings]," says Gulab Singh Yadav, a resident of Allahabad.

The saddest part of this ritual is that bathers believe their bathing in the confluence of three of Hinduism's holiest rivers (the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati) will wash away their sins.


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What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Words & Music: Robert Lowry, in Gospel Music, by William Doane and Robert Lowry (New York: Biglow & Main, 1876)