VOL 6: abstinence, penance, charity

What does one do at the Kumbh? Surrender completely. Even if it is only for the duration of the Mela. This sentiment forms the basis of kalpavas, a practice exclusive to the Mela held in Prayag.

Abstinence, Penance, Charity form the belief system of the kalpavasis, practitioners of this ideology. They are ordinary people who forgo their lives as they know it, to be at the Mela, detached from the profane. Acts of prayer, service and devotion are rolled into a daily regime and followed dutifully. Gestures of charity are encouraged to bridge the gap that separates the privileged from the poor. In addition to the voices of the kalpavasis, this book contains vivid accounts of an anthropologist, an NGO committed to providing free medical aid to the Kumbh attendees, a prominent priest and a man determined to unfurl his cures from the back of a bike.

Contents of abstinence, penance, charity

  • The full moon casts me to the ground (Poetic Verse)
  • Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswatiji (Insight)
  • Abstinence, Penance, Charity (Introduction)
  • Bridging faith (Photo Story)
  • Pandit Krishnanandji (Interview)
  • Sir Mark Tully (Insight)
  • Spreading warmth (Photo Story)
  • The exchange (Photo Story)
  • A bike, a box and a bhopu (Character Story)
  • 15.02.2013 (Diary Note)

Excerpts From The Book: Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji (insight)

Excerpts From The Book: bridging faith (photo story)

Almost everything is garlanded in the Mela. Sadhus, gurus, posters, billboards, horses, cows, cars, chairs, gates – everything. Asking anyone why is like asking the Sun why it rises. But when a single lady strings flowers from bridge to bridge, the answer isn't so obvious. Garlanding the river is an age-old custom. Like many others who were unable to hire a boat or swim across the river, she decided to turn the many pontoon bridges into giant garlands for Gangaji.