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The Great Gathering
This remarkable documentary provides a rare and fascinating study of the history, meaning, and diverse participants of the Maha Kumbha Mela, a spectacular Hindu sacred festival held every twelve years on the banks of the Ganges in India.
The Kumbha Mela is the largest festive gathering of humanity on earth. It rotates between four different host cities. In 2001 it is estimated that 50 million people gathered for this unique event. By bathing in the Ganges during the Kumbha Mela it is believed that one will be absolved of all past-life Karma and freed from the vicious cycle of birth and death.
The Kumbha Mela of 2001 was a very auspicious occasion and was held in Allahabad. Pilgrims came by plane, train, car, and foot from every corner of India as from around the world. Virtually every nationality and religion on earth was represented, and participants rightly felt that the spiritual energy of the world was focused on this momentous celebration. The film includes commentary by a diverse selection of participants and pilgrims, spectacular scenes of the bathing ceremonies, and many telling and intimate details of the spiritual activities that abounded. Among the highlights are scenes of the Naga Babas, a nakedly-clad sect of holy men, who left their caves in the Himalayas to bathe in the Ganges and perform their spiritual duties.
"The Great Gathering" will stimulate thought and discussion in a wide range of courses in Asian and Indian studies, cultural anthropology, and comparative religion. It was produced by David Ehrlich and directed by Mary Sue Connolly for Black Witch Films.
"This intriguing documentary is skillfully directed and beautifully presented. Moreover, it treats its subject matter with impressive sensitivity. The film captures Hindu culture at a unique and profound socio-historical moment, providing insightful but unobtrusive commentary. I thoroughly recommend this film to students of social and cultural Anthropology and Psychology." -- Dr. Richard Roche, Dept. of Psychology, Trinity College, Dublin