In 2010 a group of friends and I traveled to India for the Maha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar, north of New Delhi. This amazing spiritual experience takes place on the edge of the Ganges river where the fast current keeps it amazingly clean. The event happens once every 12 years when Jupiter enters the sign of Aquarius and the Sun is in Aries.
Hindus believe that bathing in the sacred Ganges during the Kumbha Mela at least three times can erase lifetimes of bad karma. Spiritual seekers from all disciplines migrate to Haridwar during this auspicious time.
Well, after making the 16 hour trip to New Delhi and the 10 hour drive to Haridwar, I wasn’t about to take any chances. So I brought my snorkel and bathing suit with me! My plan was to submerge myself in its waters for a while. Little did I know that there were chains to hold on to. The current is so strong that every time there is a sacred bath many people simply disappear in its turquoise waters. A spiritual guide pointed out that just placing a few drops of river water on my head is equivalent to having jumped inside. So I quickly proceeded to do this three times hoping it would guarantee a lifetime free of adverse karmic reactions.
The next Maha Kumbha Mela is expected in 2021 or 2022, the precise date depends on lunar astrological calculations. The picture above shows Haridwar about a week after the first official bath which is when I was there. If you visit during an official bath day, you can expect to wait many hours in crowded quarters without any guarantee that you will reach the sacred waters. Me and my friends decided to visit in between the first and second official bath dates.
After Haridwar we traveled by car to Rishikesh, way up north in the state of
Uttarakhand and very close to the Himalayas. There I saw an unbelievable sight: Golden feathered ducks! Everybody I tell this story to thinks I’m lying. I’m glad I took some pictures with my trusty Cannon digital camera. Here for the first time is a picture of the golden duck!
I was witness to many incredible things during my second trip to India. My first was in 1998. Here are a few more pictures of my trip. I hope you enjoy them: