Bruce Feiler

SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER
Kumbh Mela

 

Join host Bruce Feiler on an unprecedented journey to the world’s most meaningful landscapes and rigorous religious pilgrimages. Feiler and contemporary sojourners trek to sacred sites visited annually by hundreds of millions of pilgrims. Each episode follows a modern-day pilgrim on a private spiritual journey. The series presents a comprehensive picture of the practice of pilgrimage in its varied expressions around the globe, over thousands of years.

 
Kumbh Mela
Every twelve years, tens of millions of men, women and children gather on the flood plain of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in Allahabad, India, for the largest gathering of humanity for religious purposes on the planet, and host Bruce Feiler is there.  This is the Kumbh Mela, the great Hindu festival where pilgrims come from across India, and around the world, to bathe in the water where two sacred rivers meet.

 

Host Bruce Feiler travels to the Kumbh with a group of spiritual seekers from across America, first stopping in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, downstream from Allahabad, to take part in traditional rituals on the Ganges, India’s most sacred river that is worshipped by Hindus as a goddess. Bruce and the pilgrims travel on by bus to the vast tent city built on land that was underwater just months earlier and will be flooded again in just a few months more.  Bruce and the American pilgrims settle into camp, surrounded by millions of other pilgrims, holy men, gurus and ash-covered naga babas, the naked ascetics who are the most visible symbol of the Kumbh Mela. They join millions of fellow pilgrims and holy men and women who are bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in a ritual that Hindus believe washes away sins and breaks the endless cycle of reincarnation.

 

 

SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER
Shikoku

 

The Island of Shikoku in Japan is the birthplace of the most revered figure in Japanese Buddhism, the monk and teacher Kobo Daishi, who brought a populist form of Buddhism to Japan from China in the 9th Century.  For hundreds of years, a 750-mile pilgrimage route has circled this mountainous island, connecting 88 separate temples and shrines that claim connection to the Great Master Kobo Daishi.

 

Host Bruce Feiler circles the island, following a pilgrim trail that’s taken by hundreds of thousands of Japanese and international pilgrims every year – a Buddhist pilgrimage that welcomes pilgrims of all faiths.  While the majority now drive or travel by train or bus (a two-week journey), many still set aside 60 or more days to walk the entire route, especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and pilgrimage season is at its height. 

 

Temple priests introduce Bruce to sacred ceremonies that date back thousands of years, revealing how the presence of Kobo Daishi is believed to accompany all who follow in his footsteps.  Out on the pilgrim trail, Bruce meets with different American walkers – a hiking group from the Pacific Northwest, a retired soldier from California, and two recently-married doctors from Indiana – to learn why they’ve come to Shikoku and what they are hoping to find.

 

 

SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER
Lourdes

 

Host Bruce Feiler embeds with a group of active duty and retired US military, wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq and other American wars, as they travel to the Catholic shrine of Lourdes in Southwest France in search of healing.  More than five million pilgrims from around the world visit this shrine to the Virgin Mary every year to drink and bathe in the waters of a spring that Catholics believe has miraculous powers. The waters of the spring were uncovered by a young peasant girl named Bernadette during her vision of the Virgin Mary in 1858.

 

Some of the wounded warriors come to Lourdes as skeptics, and some with faith or at least an open mind.  Whether sharing their stories of war and recovery or finding healing in the camaraderie of fellow warriors, the weeklong pilgrimage allows the veterans to open up to others in a place whose primary focus is to ease suffering.