The largest religious festival in the world started this week in India. It’s called the Maha Kumbh Mela, and while smaller festivals are held every three years, this largest gathering occurs only once every twelve years at the convergence of two actual rivers and one river that news outlets unanimously refer to as “mythical.” I think popular American religions could learn a thing or two from this giant Hindu pilgrimage, so I’ve put together this list of things I learned about the Maha Kumbh Mela that we need more of in our stodgy Western spiritual practices.
Naked Holy Men. All the holy dudes get butt naked and swim in these rivers, even if they don’t belong to the same religious sect. I think everyone would be better off if Joel Osteen went skinny dipping with the Pope. Most of all Joel Osteen and the Pope. Lighten up, dudes.
Mythical Destinations. Everyone is meeting at the intersection of THREE rivers but one of them is MYTHICAL so like, maybe it was there once, or it wasn’t. It IS AND ISN’T there. It’s MYTHICAL. Next year, let’s have Christmas at Atlantis, and I don’t mean the resort.
55-Day Holy Festivals. The Maha Kumbh Mela is nearly two months long, but only happens every 12 years. That comes to about four and a half days per year. If we consolidated Chanukah this way then every 12 years we’d have 96 nights of presents and a really intense fire hazard. I SAY LET’S GO FOR IT.
Samosas. As far as I can tell samosas don’t have anything specifically to do with Maha Kumbh Mela but they ARE delicious. I think our religious festivals (like Easter) should include samosas. As well as our non-religious festivals (like Bonnaroo.) And our lunches (like every day.)
Saffron. The color. Why are the colors associated with our religious activities SO BORING? Red and green, blue and white, pastels. PASTELS?! Come on. What is this, 2nd grade? How about turquoise and oxblood for Palm Sunday? THINK ABOUT IT. Or a nice bright yellow? Not on me, I’ll wash right out, but it’ll look goooood on B.
Rivers. Christianity talks a mean river game, but never follows through. “I went down to the river to pray?” More like, “I watched football in high-def and ate store-bought cheese dip.” Also, Rivers Cuomo. I don’t know if they’re into the Blue Album in India, but swimming and Weezer sounds like religion to me.
Destination Holidays. Sure there are pilgrimages to Mecca, and people like to get all Old Testament and visit Israel or whatever, but I think we need more local holy sites. Every holy place has to start being holy sometime, right? Maybe now is the moment for the Mississippi River Delta to take that next step. Plus, the food there is GREAT.
Let’s make this happen. I’m talking 55 days of naked holy dudes eating cajun samosas at mythical swimming holes. Oh, and Weezer is playing. WHO’S GOT A GOOD RELIGION NOW? Sign ups are below.