The Magical Religious Gathering of Pilgrims- The Maha Kumbh

Dating back to the time of the Rig Veda, the Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in twelve years. Celebrated on the banks of India’s most sacred rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna, and Godavari, it is the world’s oldest and largest religious gathering. This year the Maha Kumbh began on the day of maker sankranti, with tens of thousands of devotees, ascetics and leaders of various orders taking the holy dip at the sangam – the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. The main ritual is the holy bath which starts as early as 3 a.m. and is believed by Hindus to absolve them of sins. As dawn approaches, different groups of sadhus, often accompanied by elephants, camels and drummers move towards the river to bathe, usually led by the nagas (naked sadhus with bodies covered with ash and matted hair).

If official reports are to be believed, as many as a hundred million pilgrims are expected to pass through the city over the next two months, making it larger than any previous festivals.

Maha Kumbh Mela

The festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says Lord Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality. As mesmerizing as it is spiritual, this religious gathering is a meeting of mystical minds, where holy men gather together to discuss their faith. Pilgrims who attend the Kumbh mela come to see and listen to these men, in order to gain spiritual enlightenment. It also is a great opportunity for the westerners to learn the Hindi language and for Indian parents probably away from the country to acquaint their kids with the Indian culture.
Authorities have constructed a vast tented city at the festival ground for masses of pilgrims, with millions being spent to provide everything from sanitation to security.

The grand festival which has in previous years broken the world record for the biggest human gathering will end on the 30th of March.

Advantages of Being a Multilingual Person

Language is one of humanity’s proudest creations. It’s what keeps us above the rest, makes us more intelligent than animals. In India, the local language changes every one hundred kilometers and just like with the rest of the world, every language represents a different culture. Being able to communicate fluently in a language helps you better understand their culture. Hindi, for example, is a representative of Indian culture. It has words and phrases that represent the objects and feelings that are important to us.

In today’s globalized world it is very important to be multilingual. It gives you an edge over the rest. Many people, especially foreigners, are interested in how to learn Hindi as they know that India is a rising power. Indian culture is a dominating one in the world and in order to understand and utilize Indian culture it is important to learn Hindi.

The globalized world holds many prospects. It’s possible to get a job in almost any part of the world. It is essential, however, to understand the local language. Many people are taking advantage of this and are speeding ahead in their careers just by learning Hindi or another secondary language. Learning Hindi gives you an insight into Indian culture that is not possible otherwise. Along with helping you understand what people are saying, more importantly it lets you know what they are thinking and feeling. The advantages of being multilingual are many, and growing as the world becomes a smaller place.

The Hallowed Precincts of the Golden Temple

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, is a prominent Gurdwara considered holy by Sikhs around the world. This beautiful structure was constructed to be a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life to come together and worship God.

When the gurdwara was first built in 1574, it was surrounded by a small lake in a forest. It was Guru Ram Das who enlarged the lake and built a township around it. Although it was completed in 1604, it was attacked by Afghans in the 18th Century and had to be rebuilt.

Devotees enter the temple through an ornate archway with intricate inlay work. The most noticeable feature is its dome – said to be glided with a hundred kilograms of gold. Shaped like an inverted lotus, the dome signifies the Sikhs’ concerns with the problems of this world.A bridge also extends from the Gurdwara to the Akal Takhat, the governing body of religious authority for Sikhs. Many people are known to learn to speak Hindi in order to read the verses from the Granth Sahib that are inscribed on the doorways.

The nightly prayer ceremony that takes place inside is televised worldwide for Sikhs. Everyday a healthy meal is prepared and distributed to the tens of thousands of pilgrims. This meal is known as Langar. Today, the Golden temple is one of the most socially and religiously revered structures in the world and an essential element of Indian culture.

The Saga of QutabMinar

Standing tall at a height of 72.5m, Qutub Minar with its very long history is the highest tower in India and also one of its finest landmarks. There are different versions about the purpose for which it was built.The foundation was laid in 1199 byQutb-u’d-Din Aibak and he built the first storey. The other stories were built by his son in law and successor Shamsu’d-Din IItutmishbetween 1211 and 1236.There are inscriptions at the base of the minaret which say that Firoz Shah Tughlak added the last storey in 1368. Apart from that there are other Arabic inscriptions on the Qutub Minar depicting its history. One story goes that Qutub Minar was built as tower of victory to declare the might of Islam, while another view is that it might have been made as a tower of defence.The lower three storeys of the minaret are made mainly of red and buff sandstone and white marble is used in the top two stories.According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firuz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489-1517) when the Minar received some damage because of earthquakes on more than a couple of occasions. It is recorded that Major R.Smith also undertook repairs and restored the minar in 1829.Seen from most parts of the city, the Qutub Minar Qutab Minar in Delhi is among the tallest and famous towers in the world.

Holi: Religious Myths and Legends

The Hindu festival of Holi was once just a celebration of spring, but it has greatly evolved and come to represent a number of other Hindu legends. Holi is celebrated over two days during the months of February or March, depending on the last full moon day of the winter season. The festival is a celebration of the coming of spring and is one of the few times of the year that the traditional caste system in India is ignored. Known commonly as the Festival of Colors, it is celebrated in energetic fashion by the communal smearing of colorful paints on each other and the throwing of colored powders and dyes into the air with abandon.

One of the main Holi myths associated with the festival is the story of the female demon Holika. Holika’s brother was a demon king whose son was a devoted worshiper of Vishnu. When the king asked his son who was greater, him or his god, his son answered that Vishnu was greater as his father was merely a king. This angered the demon king who tried in vain to kill his traitorous son. When he failed, he went to his sister for her help in destroying his son. The gods had given Holika a powder that would protect her from fire, so she devised a plan to use this gift to help her brother. She carried her nephew into a bonfire, expecting the fire to burn him but leave her untouched. The gods punished this evil by removing the power from the powder, leaving her to burn and her nephew unharmed.

The demon king continued to try and kill his son much to the anger of Vishnu, but the great god could not kill the king without meeting certain requirements. A deal struck with Brahma, the god of creation, meant that no man, beast, god or demon could kill the demon king. He could not be killed in the morning or at night, and he could be killed neither indoors nor outdoors. In an elaborate scheme, Vishnu turned himself into a half lion, half man creature known as Lord Narasimha. Being neither beast nor man, Lord Narasimha attacked the demon king at twilight, which was neither night nor day. The attack took place in the doorway to the king’s courtroom, neither inside nor out.

But all darkness aside, Holi is a celebration of life, unity and fun. People take to the streets to dance, sing and cover each other in a vibrant array of colors. Not only does it symbolize the togetherness of a quickly growing country, this notion of unity manifests itself in the lighthearted frolicking enjoyed by men, women and children all across the country.

The Taj Mahal: A Symbol of Love

Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language that bares a strong likeness to Urdu. It is a truly beautiful and romantic language to learn. (Though Hindi shows more similarities to Sanskrit and Urdu bares more of a likeness to the Persian dialect.) The strong resemblance of the two is so profound that they could be considered variations of one language. For one to learn Hindi would truly be to learn the language of love and rich culture.

Agra, or Akbarabad, is a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (literally translated as ‘North State’). It was the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until 1653. Agra is home to the world renowned Taj Mahal that still today stands on the banks of the river Yamuna. It was constructed as a memorial for Mumt?z Mahal by her husband Shah Jahan. She expired while birthing their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum.

In order to understand the beauty of this History one must first come to know the content from which it was derived, beginning with Shah Jahan who was born in 1592 and died in 1666. He was an emperor from 1628 until 1658. In 1612 Mumtaz Mahal became his third and most beloved wife. He now lies with her in one of the most expensive and historic tombs known to mankind. With pristine designs of flowers and intricate designs cut from gems is a tomb encased in white marble where even in death Mumtaz Mahal and her betrothed lie together in eternal, undying love.

The Taj Mahal is enclosed in a garden. It has majestic fountains and is decorated with ornamental trees. There are two mosques and a beautiful gateway. It is believed Jah?ng?r, who had an intense knowledge of gardens and a keen eye for architecture, is ultimately responsible for the creation of the Taj Mahal.

It is however known that the chief designer of the Taj Mahal was Isa Mohammad Khan. Construction was launched in 1634 and lasted for 21 years. The construction itself consisted of over 19,000 workers. It was finally finished in 1654.

The Taj Mahal was and still is simply flawless. Consequently the sheer beauty, architectural excellence and the romantic history all come together to make The Taj Mahal’s one of the 7th wonders of the world.