Kumbhamela is the world’s biggest celebration and religious pilgrimage where millions of devotees and pilgrims participate. It is also known for unfolding the cultural significance of India and for having spiritual meetings and gatherings of Saints and devotees. It is a Hindu fair where hundreds of millions of devotees come together for religious activities such as sacred bath at rivers, also known as ‘Gangasnan’, ‘Sadhana’ (worship), Donation, Philanthropy and Shraddha rituals (memorial rituals for dead people). It occurs every 12 years at four places in India and is of utmost importance to Hindu religion. There are many ‘Vidvan’ (scholars), Saints of the 13 Akharas and Mahatmas, who participate in this huge event.
Kumbhamela is now an International event. It is a global celebration where no formal invitation is needed. Everyone participates in the ceremony based on ‘Panchang’ (Almanac). This celebration becomes the center of attraction when everyone participates actively and count goes from thousands to millions.
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There are many stories noted in Hindu Epics, but the most Influential story states that, during the mythological war between Devas (God) and Asuras (Demons), when the Amrit kumbha came out of the ocean, Devas realized that if Asuras take the Amrit kumbha, they would not let God and common people live a good life and will destroy the entire world. So, god Jayant- son of lord Indra, took the Amrit kumbha and ran away through the sky. The fight for Amrit kumbha between Suras and Asuras lasted 12 days.
While god Jayant was taking Amrit kumbha through air way, some drops of Amrit (elixir of immortality) fell from the kumbha (pot) at Haridwar, Prayag, Trimbakeshwar-Nashik and Ujjain, where,Kumbhamela takes place now. The story also says that, Chandra (Moon) saved the Amrit in the Kalasha from dropping down, the Surya (Sun) protected the Amrit kumbha from the breakdown and Guru (Jupiter) protected it from the demons. Hence, Kumbhamela begins when the Sun, the Moon and the Guru enter the Kumbha zodiac. It takes 12 years for the Guru to take the zodiac sign, so that every 12 years brings Kumbha.
When Guru (Jupiter) is in Simha (Leo) sun sign, it is called as ‘Simhastha’ and when Guru (Jupiter) is in Kumbha (Aquarius) sign, it is known as ‘Kumbhamela’. The fair at Nashik is determined by the place of Guru (Jupiter) in Simha (Leo) and hence it is known as ‘Simhastha Kumbhamela’.
On the first auspicious day of Kumbhamela, flag hoisting takes place at the Ram Kunda on the bank of river Ganga. First, the Sadhus or Saints then the rest of the devotees take bath in the holy Ganga river. The event starts at about four o’clock in the morning. When the procession of Sadhus starts towards Shahisnan, people gather at both sides of the road. Local devotees already decorate the procession route with Rangoli and flower petals. Some big and great saints are ride on elephants, camels, horses and their followers hold umbrellas on their heads, and the devotees shower them with flowers. At this time, the sounds of various instruments like drums add life to the entire event. Saints and followers continuously hum the sounds like ‘Har Har Mahadev’- ‘Har Har Mahadev’, ‘Jai Ganga Maiyya’. This chanting, when in full swing, literally vibrates the entire atmosphere.Millions of Naga Sadhus, with Bhasma (Ash) on their bodies, garlands around their necks and shiny swords in their hands, dancing on the music, look thrilling and out of this world. Imagine, when they hum ‘Har Har Mahadev’, ‘Har Har Ganga’, it looks like a live movie. After this holy bath, everyone goes to the holy shrine nearby to worship the god.
Living arrangement for Sadhus and Saints is made at Tapobhumi, also called as Tapovan on the bank of Godavari river. More than 10 thousand pandals (tents) are erected at this site. During this whole event, people continuously serve food to all the devotees. Along with Food, water, lodging, restrooms, medical and emergency services, and dozens of other things all arranged as well.
The Kumbhamela switches between the four holy places every three years. The next Kumbhamela is going to held in Haridwar in 2022, whereas, Allahabad is going to organize an Ardha Kumbha in 2019.
Featured Photo by Roshan Travel Photography