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Kumbh Mela In India

The literal meaning of Kumbh is pitcher or Kalash. The mouth of the pitcher symbolizes the presence of Vishu, its neck that of Rudra, the base of Brahma, all goddesses in the center and the entire oceans in the interior, thus encompassing all the four Vedas. Kumbh is an occasion but with the passage of time it took the shape of a Religious and cultural festival.

The kumbh mela is considered to be the largest peaceful gathering of Hindus in the world and also considered greatest fair of the North-India. Kumbh Mela has gained international fame as the world’s most massive act of faith. The Kumbh Mela is a riverside festival held four times every twelve years, rotating between Allahabad at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati river; Nasik on the Godavari River; Ujjain on the Sipra River; and Haridwar on the Ganga River. The last Mahakumbh was in 1989. Spiritual benefits multiplies manifold when the Kumbh at Allahabad falls on Monday. And this happening is called Somvati Amavasya. Ardha Kumbh Mela is held at only two places i.e. Haridwar and Allahabad every sixth year. The most auspicious hour on the most auspicious day of the month longed festival is that thousands of naked holy men and also the millions of people from various sects will immerse themselves in the river for a ceremonial bath.

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History :
Scientifically, Kumbh Mela of Haridwar is considered original as the astrologers had given astrological calculation regarding this and also it held according to astrological sign “Kumbha” (Aquarius). It is believed in Hinduism that in the battle of god and demon the milky ocean churned and four drop of nectar fell to earth from the kumbha carried by gods. And these places became the sites of four Kumbha Mela festivals. It is believed that bathing in these rivers cleanse a person from all his sins.

It is the seventh-century shaivite philosopher and Guru Adi Shankaracharya who oraganized the kumbh to unite and ponder on Hinduism where rishis, munis, sadhus and yogis come together to discuss various topics.

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Legends :
The origin of the Kumbh Mela is described in the vedic literature of India. It is evolved from bygone days of the universe when the demigods and the demons produced the nectar of immortatlity. This story has been related in many ways. The demigods, being fearful of what would happen if the demons drank their share of the nectar of immortality, stole away the pot and hid it in four places on the Earth: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. It is believed that at each of the hiding place a drop of immortal nectar spilled from the pot and landed on the earth. These four places acquired mystical power. And after that these places considered to be the holy place for the Hindus and now a day this place has become a favorite pilgrim place in India.

Then there is story that neatly sums up the attitude of the ordinary Hindus to the Kumbh.

Parvati, wife of deity Shiva ponders on watching the millions of devotees gathering at the holy Kumbh and speak to the lord Shiva that “you are indeed compassionate my lord, but to me it seems that your compassion is more harming than benefit as only a fool would lead a virtuous life if Moksha can be attained by only a sheer dip in the holy river.” On hearing this lord Shiva decided to visit the kumbh in the form of a Brahmin couple.

Lord Shiva with her wife Parvati went there and lay prone on the ground and beside him Parvati starts sobbing like a helpless wife. People nearby gathered and asked about her plight. She answered by saying that “the Lord Shiva has promised that the only touch of a sinless man can back my husband’s life but if the person is having sin, he will die instantly.” On hearing this, instead of touching all the pilgrims take their steps back. It proves that none of the pilgrims truly believes that they had been cleansed off their sins after the holy dip. Soon after a drink man came staggering near the crying lady, and after knowing the problem he move towards the holy river to make himself free from all the sins. And after taking dip in the holy river he went back towards the helpless lady and bent down to touch the dead Brahmin. Soon after Lord Shiva revealed himself and said, “You indeed attain Moksha my son, so far only you.” Back at their place Lord Shiva asked her wife, “With all my divine compassion I do not seem to have succeeded in making salvation very cheap, after all, have I?


Special Attractions :
Kumbh Mela is an occasion but with the passage of time it took the shape of a Religious and Cultural festival, which leaves impression not only on India but on whole world. Earlier the shape of the fair was small but after 12th century it is spreading till now. Not only pilgrimage but thousands of shopkeepers and peddlers are making their profit by doing business there. This place takes the shape of mini India as people from every religion and caste are present there.


Rituals and Traditions :
It is a matter of faith among Hindus that simply bathing in the holy river Ganga freed one from the past sins, and thus one becomes eligible for liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This ritual bath is considered auspicious on the day of the new moon. In the Kumbh one can see many sadhus performing seemingly impossible tasks of endurance during their tapas. It’s really a very beautiful scene- The Sea of humanity, the ocean of tents, the colourful flags, lakhs of pilgrims taking a dip in the water, the smell of the smoke from the holy fires, the beautiful sunrise all these restores one.

In the Kumbh mela sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on their skin and some is Naga sadhu who doesn’t wear any clothes even in severe winter. The act of naked is considered a sign of separation from the materialistic world. And one more thing about Nagas is that they usually take charas and ganja which is also considered to be one of the means of attaining nirvana. Due to the intake of these drugs Nagas’ eyes are usually red.

Kumbh Mela is an impressive demonstration of the unshakable faith of Hindus in the holy bath and the darshan of sadhus as means to wash away one’s sins and purify the soul. The Kumbh is a home to several types of sadhus. The Urdhwavahurs sadhus have thin bodies due to performing severe spiritual practices, Parivajakas are the sadhus who have chosen a vow of silence to be their way to spirituality, Shirshasinse sadhus are those who meditate standing on their heads, keep on standing and sleep with their heads resting on a vertical pole. And one more I.e. Kalpvasis Sadhus, who reside by the river banks and dedicate their whole time meditating, performing rituals, and bathing numerous times a day.

On the day of new moon the scene at kumbh changes as this day is considered more auspicious. On this very day the day starts at 3 in the early morning. People speaking non-stop ‘Jai Ganga Maiya’ take dip in the holy river. Most of the peoples shave their heads before taking bath. All the devotees take bath before sunrise and just the first ray of sun strikes there, the sadhus starts their rituals. The processions of akharas begin in which sadhus move towards the river. Usually the processions are led by the Naga sadhus. A devotee of every akhara carries a turban aloft a pole announcing their arrival. The head of the akhara sit in the well decorated golden chariot with silk umbrella over the head and a leopard skin rug. The milions of devotees, the decorated chariots, thousands of sadhus moving together make the moment magical.

Purifying their mind and the body devotees wear fresh clothes and starts worshipping on the holy river bank. After having their meals, they enjoy visiting sadhus or listening them. Cleansing all the sins the pilgrims start departing after new moon day.

-: List of North India Festivals :-