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How to say: Ardh Kumbh Mela

16:14 UK time, Monday, 15 January 2007

A weekly guide to the words and names in the news with Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

This week, millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to immerse themselves in the river Ganges (pronounced GAN-jeez), in the northern Indian city of Allahabad (established English pronunciation: al-uh-huh-BAAD) as part of the 45-day Hindu festival, Ardh Kumbh Mela (AARD KUUMB MAY-luh) which began on 3 January. Hindus believe that bathing at Sangam (SUNG-gum (-u as in run; -ng-g as in finger)), the confluence of three holy rivers, can wash away their sins and break the cycle of reincarnation. Some holy men, or sadhus (SAA-dooz), had threatened to boycott the bathing ritual, claiming the river was too polluted. In an attempt to reduce pollution, the authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UUT-uhr pruh-DAYSH) last week flushed the Ganges with fresh water and have since ordered the closure of 80 factories which will remain shut until the festival ends in mid-February.

(For a guide to our phonetic pronunciations, click here.)

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