Kumbh for the Traveller
The thought of Kumbh Mela may bring vivid pictures to the mind like crowded riverfront, naked ash smeared sadhus, saffron clad people, and devotees taking dips into the sacred river. The Kumbh Mela is a magnificent confluence of faith and believers. A hindu festival or rather fair, Kumbh in its literal translation means amrit or nectar while Mela – a common local term – means fair.
This massive congregation attracts not only Hindu devotees but also visitors that include non-believers from across the globe. The Kumbh Mela is magical for reasons more than one. As a traveller, being a part of this festivity will not only give you a view into the traditions followed by the community but also take you into a world that the festival specially creates.
Let’s take you deeper into one of incredible India’s amazing phenomenon. The following facts will acquaint you with what a traveller should know and expect in the Kumbh journey:
More About Kumbh: The Kumbh Mela is held once every 12 years at each of the locations. The four places that serve as venue include Haridwar in Uttarakhand, Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, Nashik in Maharashtra, and Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated once every 12 years at each of the four destinations. Zodiac combinations or the positions of starts and planets according to the Hindu astrology help determine the date for each of the Melas. The concept also includes two special phenomena: Ardha Kumbh held once every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad; and the Maha Kumbh that graces once in 144 years!
Kumbh Legend: There are several versions and retelling of the Hindu mythological story that explains how the Kumbh Mela came into its form. However, the background story widely popular goes as – The churning of the ocean or Samudra Manthan produced nectar or amrit that would guarantee immortality. This eventually led to a battle between the devas (Hindu gods) and the asuras (demons). While being chased by the asuras for the amrit, some of it spilled over four places on Earth. The site of the Kumbh Mela is the river in each of these locations: river Ganga at Haridwar, confluence of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad, river Godavari at Nashik and Shipra at Ujjain. On the holy dates, the river is believed to turn into amrit. The significance behind taking dips is that it cleanses the believer of sins committed and offers a new and pure shot at life.
Kumbh Journey: The Kumbh Mela is considered as one of world’s largest religious gatherings. The total number of visitors crosses over 100 million at each of the Melas. The bathing ritual is considered as one of the most important. Other than that, huge number of holy men, women and the poor are fed each day. This is also when various Hindu sects including Naga sadhus, Urdhwavahurs, Parivrajakas, Kalpwasis come together from across the nation to follow their respective rituals. Among the chaos are devotional songs and hymns being played, discourses and religious teachings offered, chanting of the names of the divine. The site of the Kumbh mela – with the lights and traditional diyas – turns spectacular after dark.
Naga Sadhu: The sight of the Naga sadhus – ardent devotees of Lord Shiva – marks every Kumbh Mela. Usually dwelling far from human settlements, you rarely ever see them. A very mysterious sect in Hinduism, the Kumbh Mela is when they come out in the open and revel in the festival. Far removed from the material aspects of life, they lead a life in complete accordance with nature and some of their customs and beliefs may not appeal norms. This is also another reason of the minimal interaction between their clan and the rest of humanity.
Kumbh For You: We recommend a visit to the Kumbh mela whether or not you are religious. A very normal city and the normal life is upturned into an atmosphere unlike any. Several amazing photos grace the internet and if you have a penchant for capturing life as it presents, this is one of the best grounds for you to be at. Documentaries, films and books have been churned out on the Kumbh Mela. Divine feelings for those who seek it, the Kumbh Mela offers opportunity to bring out your artistic side. Even if you visit the Mela with no agenda set, the place will influence you and we never know how!