From “Glocality” to Global Health
Religious pilgrimage—travel to a holy place for the purpose of spiritual and often also physical wellness—is a quintessential act intersecting religion, health, charity, and justice. Chapter 2 relates experiences in comparative theology and cross-disciplinary global health activities at the 2013 Kumbh Mela, a sacred Hindu bathing festival and pilgrimage site at the Ganges River in Allahabad, India. Through a narrative connection between the festival and themes in humanitarian crises, the chapter reflects on ways that such pilgrimage journeys effect transitions that can mark the body—through healing saints, migration, “darśan” or a sacred gazing, the effects of water and sanitation, and osteoarchaeology. The chapter traces the history of such water-based pilgrimage texts from the Kumbh Mela back into examples from Late Antiquity in Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and early Christian sources, considering global health implications related to urbanization and other mass gatherings.
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