Hindus have welcomed Oscar winner Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), 43, for her proposed trip to “Kumbh Mela”, the 55-day pilgrimage assembly of Hindu devotees in India termed as biggest spiritual gathering on earth, which began January 14.
Welcoming Zeta-Jones and other Hollywood and international celebrities to “Kumbh Mela”, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged them to go to the Mela as pilgrims and not as tourists.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested Zeta-Jones and other celebrities that in addition to immersing in holy Sangam waters, they should also explore the rich philosophy which Hinduism offered. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly help in such exploration, Zed added.
Zeta-Jones was quoted in some Indian media reports as saying that she was planning to visit “Kumbh Mela” with her family, hoping to find what she was looking for.
According to a belief, all sins/evils committed by the “Kumbh Mela” (pot-fete) pilgrims and their ancestors back to the 88th generation will be washed away forever by a dip at Sangam during Mela dates and that they will achieve salvation and emerge regenerated and healed. Its observance is believed to go back to ancient Vedic period and the legend of “Churning of the Ocean” is associated with it. It is held four times every twelve years, rotating among Allahabad, Nasik, Haridwar, and Ujjain (all in India).
Various sadhus (hermits) are also said to visit the Mela; including Nagas, who do not wear any clothes; Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities; Parivajakas, who have taken a vow of silence; Shirshasins, who stand 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads; Kalpvasis, who bathe thrice a day.
Various films have documented Kumbh Mela, including “Invocation, Kumbha Mela” (2008, Fernando del Sol), “Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela” (2004, Maurizio Benazzo, Nick Day), “Kumbh Mela: Songs of the River” (2004, Nadeem Uddin), “Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth” (2001, Graham Day), “Kumbha Mela” (1989, Michelangelo Antonioni), “Amrita Kumbher Sandhane” (1982, Dilip Roy).