Kumbha Fair 2010
Kumbh mela (Kumbha fair) is the largest & the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage, a mass pilgrimage which draws millions of Hindus to have a holy dip in the sacred waters of one of the three holy rivers, viz. the Ganga, Godavari or Kshipra. It is held after every 12 years and rotates among 4 locations : Prayag (Allahabad) at the confluence of the Ganga & Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh, Hardwar (Haridwar) by the Ganga in Uttarakhand, Nasik by the river Godavari in Maharashtra & Ujjwain by the river Kshipra in Madhya Pradesh.
According to the Indian Astrology, it is celebrated when the planet Brihaspati (Jupiter) moves into the Zodiac sign of Aquarius or Kumbha.
Hindus believe that the waters of Ganga (or the other rivers Kshipra & Godavari) turns into nectar (Amrit) on the auspicious occasion of Kumbh Mela., & a holy dip in the water of these rivers eliminates all the evil & past sins from an individual’s life. Thousands of holy men & women (Sadhus of various types) attend the Kumbh Mela, & thye auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to these holy persons. The sadhus include various sects & a large number of them are Naga Sannyasis who remain nude throughout their lives!
Millions of people from all parts of the world attend these festivals, with various intentions, mostly to get a chance to be free from sins of this & the past lives. The other important activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, religious assemblies, mass feeding of & distribution of clothes to poor people.
This festival of Kumbh Mela is recognized by the Guinness Book of world Records as the largest human gathering at one site.
This year (2010) the Kumbh Mela is being celebrated at Haridwar (or Hardwar) in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand from 10 January to 28 April. The important dates in which sadhus & devotees take a holy dip in the Ganga are called “Snaan” dates, some of these in this Kumbha Mela are as follows : 14 January (Makar Sankranti), 15 January (Mouni Amabasya), 12 Feb (Maha Shivratri –the first Sahee snan or the first Royal bath), 15 March (Somavati Amabasya, the second Sahee Snan or Royal bath), 24 March (Ram Navami), 30 March (Chaitra Purnima), 14 April (Mesh Sankranti – Mukhya Sahee snan or the Chief Royal Bath) & 28 April (Vaishakha Purnima).