Journeys to Sacred Places

 

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Journeys to Sacred Places

It is the eve of the millennium, December 31st, 2000. I just stepped off the plane at New Delhi airport. Twenty three years earlier I boarded a flight from this very airport and flew half way across the planet to my new home in the US. Now, I am back for the first time.

I had meant to come back sooner, but something or another always came up. Life got in the way. Then I learned that the Kumbh Mela was taking place during January 2001.

Every child in India has heard of the pilgrimage called the Kumbh Mela. It is a spiritual gathering that takes place where the Ganges River merges with the Yamuna River. The Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering of humanity on the planet - seventy million attended the one I was at! It has been taking place once every twelve years for over two thousand years unbroken. Greeks visiting India in 400 BC wrote about it.

To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about coming to India after all this time, especially coming to the staggering crowds of the Kumbh Mela. But within three days I find myself speaking Hindi fluently. As I immerse myself in the people of India, I fall in love with their warmth and their generosity. I love visiting the ancient temples, listening to the stories and mythology behind them. I hang out with holy men, some genuine, some not so. I camp out on the Ganges river bed for a month. It is incredible to see how aware of the divine in everyday life people are here.

Now I journey to India every two years. I travel to a different sacred place each time, bringing back images and stories of the different spiritual paths that India has paved for us.