A holy bath

Audio 10:49
David Franklin/Getty Images/A Terrade

Are you one of this week’s lucky winners? Are you ready to try your luck on today’s quiz question? Click on that little “Listen” arrow above, and join in!


Hello everyone!

Welcome to The Sound Kitchen. You can catch the programme on-the-air every Saturday at 4:52, 6:22, and 7:52 universal time. You’ll hear the winners' names announced and the week’s quiz question, along with all the other ingredients you have grown accustomed to: your letters and essays, “On This Day,” quirky facts and news, interviews, and great music, so tune in every Saturday!

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Did you know there is such a thing as official RFI Clubs? Up until now, they have always been French clubs, but now we want to open them up to all our listeners … let’s show the French how involved in RFI the rest of the world is! You can either transform your existing radio club into an RFI Club, or create a brand new one.

Then, anytime you plan special events – be they humanitarian, cultural, or sports-oriented; if you want to host an environmental program, or a day dedicated to health issues - RFI will help you with ideas and free promotional items for your members. If you are interested in either changing your radio club into an RFI club, or if you would like to create a brand-new RFI club, write my colleague Sébastien Bonijol in our Listener Relations department.

Sébastien Bonijol
RFI – Relations Auditeurs
80, rue Camille Desmoulins
92130, Issy-les-Moulineaux

Which leads me to another item of interest: the RFI Listener’s Club. Our Listener Relations department has decided that everyone can belong to the RFI Listener’s Club, but you will only be issued a membership number, not an identity card. Only members of an official RFI Club will have identity cards. As an RFI Listener’s Club member, you will still win a premium prize if you win a Sound Kitchen quiz. So no reason to not join – although having an official RFI Club is really far cooler.

If you only want to be a member of the general RFI Listener’s Club – that’s great, too! Just send me (or Sébastien) two identity photographs – and you can send them via e-mail, as jpeg files - along with the photos, send your full name, your postal mailing address, and if you have one, your e-mail address. You’ll receive an RFI Listeners Club number; include that number every time you enter a quiz, and if you are a winner, you’ll get a premium prize!

Nota bene: The RFI Listeners Club used to be called “Club 9516”. So if you are a member of the “Club 9516”, you are already a member of the RFI Listeners Club. Your “Club 9516” membership number still works – no need to reapply. Just include your membership number on your quiz entries.

Look at that beautiful link to the Sound Kitchen Listeners Cookbook! It actually happened! I’m very happy about it, and I hope you enjoy looking at it – and trying out some recipes. Please feel free to send in any comments you have, and we would love it if you’d send in photos – of you, and your completed dish. Don’t hesitate to use the “zoom” tool on countries where there are a lot of forks; that will separate them so you can read the titles easier. Click on the title, and the recipe will appear.

Today’s question was read on 19 January, and was about a very important Hindu festival which started that week. The festival is 55 days long, and this particular festival happens only every 144 years, and always in the same town: Allahabad. I asked you to send in the name of the festival, and to tell me what the pilgrims do at the festival … 

The answer is: the Maha Kumbha Mela. There are three different kinds of Kumbh: an ardh - or “half” - Kumbh, which is held every six years; a Purna - or “full” - Kumbh, which is held every 12 years; and the current festival, the Maha Kumbha Mela. The Maha Kumbha Mela only occurs after 12 Purna Kumbhs – or every 144 years. 

So what is it all about? Kumbh means “pitcher”, and Mela means “fair”, in Hindi. According to Hindu mythology, drops of nectar carried in a pitcher by the gods spilled into the Sangam river, the confluence of the holy Ganges and Yamuna rivers, which is at Allahabad.

As listener Anand Mohan Bain from Bhilai, India wrote: “The pilgrims come because of their deep faith, their hope, and their belief in salvation. During their 55 days at the festival, they perform various rituals, they listen to discourses, and they give alms. But most important is the holy bath in the river – for it is believed that this will cleanse their sins, and free them from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.”

There was a very sad occurrence this year, on the main bathing day, 10 February. There was a stampede of people at the train station, and people were not only wounded, but killed. Please think of them, and their loved ones.

The winners this week are: Wali Ahad, from Dhaka, Bangladesh; Mrs. Fareeda Farooq Azam, from Lahore, Pakistan; Ralf Urbanczyk, from Eisleben, Germany, and Mr Debakamal Hazarika of the Universal DX Club in Assam, India – both are RFI Listeners Club members – and Mr. Lamin Sanyang, from Banjul, The Gambia – who sent his answer in via SMS.

Congratulations winners!

This week’s question is about Latin America – Ecuador, to be precise – where the presidential election was just held. Who won? Send me the name of the man who won Ecuador’s presidency, and the name of his party.

Send in your answer by 25 March, and be sure and tune in on 30 March to see if you are one of the lucky winners! As always, be sure you send your postal address in with your answer … and, if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

Send your answers to:



Susan Owensby
RFI – The Sound Kitchen
BP 9516
75016 Paris


By SMS … You can also send your quiz answers to The Sound Kitchen cell phone !!!!

Dial your country’s international access code, or “ + ”, then 33 6 31 12 96 82. Don’t forget to include your mailing address in your text – and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

Remember, it’s not just the quiz which wins you a prize. If your essay goes on the air, you’ll find a package in the mail from the Sound Kitchen. Write in about your community heroes – the people in your community who are quietly working to make the world a better place, in whatever way they can. I am still looking for your “This I Believe” essays, too. Tell us about the principles that guide your life … what you have found to be true from your very own personal experience. Or write in with your most memorable moment, and/or your proudest achievement. If your essay is chosen to go on-the-air – read by you – you’ll win an RFI radio!

Send your mini book reviews, your musical requests, your secret “guilty” pleasure (mine’s chocolate!), your tricks for remembering things, your favourite quotations and proverbs, descriptions of the local festivals you participate in, your weirdest dream, or just your general all-around thoughts to:


Include a phone number, so I can call you.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

All the best,


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