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Maha Kumbh Mela : A Spiritual Awakening And A Confluence Of Culture Witnessing A Large Gathering Of Devoted Pilgrims!

Updated on September 7, 2015

Literal Meaning of Kumbh in Layman’s language!

In a layman’s language Kumbh means a pot, while Mela means a fair. Kumbh Mela has its connotations with the pot of nectar in Hindu Mythology. But probing deeper - the sublime meaning of Kumbh was poetically explained by the great poet Kabir. The human body itself is a kumbh meaning a pot -with all the elements of nature contained within it. The fire, water, air, earth and sky, are gifted by the Lord, to every human. Lord Vishnu the all-pervading entity covering the entire universe is also Kumbh. The congregation of this faith, is Mela.

The Kumbh Mela since time immemorable!

The Chinese traveller Huan Tsang mentioned the celebration of the Kumbh Mela in his diary. This ancient regimen continues to this date with unfailing religious fervour. It is the confluence of the largest number of people coming together in different location of India four times every 12 years. The fair or mela is the obeisance humans pay to the Lord of lords –Nature.

Nashik Kumbh Mela - Ramkund
Nashik Kumbh Mela - Ramkund | Source
Kumbh Mela Nashik
Kumbh Mela Nashik | Source

Historical Origins And The Legendary Tales Of Kumbh Mela

Turning back the pages of history, the story travels to the period, when the Demons and the Devtas resided on earth. Legend has it that the Devtas were a cursed lot and this instilled in them the fear of turning into cowards. However, coming to their rescue was Lord Brahma the creator. He advised them, churning the oceans to obtain the elixir for immortality. The mountain Mandara was to be the rod and the King of Serpent Vasuki, the rope for Kumbh churning.

Samudra Manthan - Kumbh Mela History
Samudra Manthan - Kumbh Mela History | Source

For this mighty task, the Gods had to take the help of the Demons. However the agreement was once the amrit of immortality was ready, they had to share this equally with the Demons. The churning process continued for 1000 years.

The Appearance Of The Amrit Pot Led To This Chase

  • Pleased with the hard work Dhanwantari appeared with Kumbh in his palms. For the safety of the Elixir, this pot was given to the Gods. When the demons realized about this conspiracy they were wild with viciousness.
  • They chased the Gods, and for 12 days and 12 nights this chase continued and in this race the drops of this elixir spilled in 4 places-Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
  • Another belief says, the war between Gods and the Demons lasted for 12 days and 12 nights. So to honour and remember this great event the Kumbh Mela is celebrated.
  • The belief is, the rivers in these places magically transform into actual kumbhs or pots, containing the Elixir, as they were during those ancient times.
  • This is the time the pilgrims get the chance to bathe in the holy rivers full of amrit. The belief is their sins get washed away and they stand of achieving salvation.

The Vedas Recount Kumbh Mela’s, Religious And Spiritual Importance

The religious importance of Kumbh is something which cannot be denied. The Rig Veda mentions the importance of convergence of Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Sangam.The belief is that Lord Rama in exile lived near Sangam. The greatest of saints Shankaracharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the Kumbh Mela. The great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata make a mention of the Yagna performed by Brahma at Sangam River.

Bathing here is considered the most auspicious. On certain days it is the time of Royal Bath wherein only Naga Sadhus parade here and take a bath. The holy ritual of bathing commences at 3 am and is usually led by Naga sadhus followed by other sects like Urdhwavahurs, Parivajakas and Shirhasins.All these sects follow strict regiments like putting their body through severe austerities, a vow of silence, standing 24 hours on their heads to meditate. Some of them even meditate for an entire month of kumbha.

Kumbh Mela Sadhus
Kumbh Mela Sadhus | Source
Naga Sadhus at Kumbh Mela
Naga Sadhus at Kumbh Mela | Source

The places where the Elixir Spilled are the venues Of Kumbh Celebration

The places where Kumbh Mela, is held, are on the banks of rivers of these holy towns where the elixir had spilled. The Ganga in Haridwar, Godavari in Nasik, Shipra in Ujjain and the Sangam-where the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati is, in Allahabad.

Calculations Done keeping The Sun, Moon And The Stars In Mind-Result Auspicious Dates

Kumbh Mela is a mass pilgrimage of faithful Hindus, in sacred rivers, in the four places where the holy amrit happened to have spilled. It is held every third year in rotation in Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. This way Kumbh is held at these places every 12th year. These dates are calculated taking into consideration all the placements of the sun and moon and the influences they play on the days selected. Only expert astrologers are involved in these calculations.

Place
River
Zodiac Sign
Month
Allahabad
Ganga -Yamuna
Jupiter in Aries/Taurus sun moon Capricorn
Jan-Feb
Haridwar
Ganga
Sun in Aries/Jupiter in Aquarius
March-April
Nasik-Trimbak
Godavari
Jupiter and sun in Leo /Sun –moon in Cancer, on Lunar conjunction-Amavasya
August-September
Ujjain
Shipra
Jupiter in Leo/sun In Aries/Sun and moon in Libra on Kartik Amavasya
April-May

The Important Dates To Absolve Oneself Of All Sins - Ritualistically

The most significant ritual of Kumbh Mela is the holy bath. The belief of Hindus is, that submerging themselves in the holy waters on the most auspicious day of the new moon will help them absolve the sins of their ancestors sin plus make them pure too. This is like achieving salvation. This will also help them end the cycle of rebirth.

  • At sun rise, various groups of Sadhus move in a procession towards the river to bathe. The Naga sadhus lead and as the sadhus, with their matted hair and ash covered faces move into the river chanting mantras, the moment turns mesmerizingly, magical!
  • After the bath, the pilgrims change into fresh clothes and go on to continue their worship on the banks of the river. Then there are various discourses by religious heads and sadhus. There is lot of charity done by feeding the poor and needy.

Setting the dates for a Kumbh of Salvation

This year the Kumbh Mela is going to be held in Nasik. The months are from August to September. Accordingly:

  • 1st Shahi Snaan –August 29th,2015 at Ram Kunda
  • 2nd Shahi Snaan – September 13th
  • 3rd Shahi Snaan –September 18th
  • On September 25th on the occasion of Bhadrapad Shukla Dwadashi -the Vaman Dwadashi Snaan

The Chosen One This Year Is Nasik - The Venue Of Kumbh

Legend has it that Nasik is one of the places, where the holy elixir had spilled during the tussle between Gods and the Demons for the ownership of the amrit. And Trimbakeshwar is a holy town in Nasik, housing one the 12 Jyotirlingas in India.

This year it is going to be held in Nasik, Trimbakeshwar. There will be millions of faithful devotees, converging from all over India for the holy, ritualistic bath. The Godavari will see the holy event taking place on its banks. The dates have already been announced by the ABAP.

Kumbhmela Nashik 2015 - View across Ramkund By Prabirghose [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kumbhmela Nashik 2015 - View across Ramkund By Prabirghose [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Just An Unshakeable Faith In Religion Required- For Participation At Kumbh Mela!

The Kumbh Mela is open to all devotees from the world over. There is neither an entry fee nor a compulsion that only Hindus can participate. But basically Hindus outnumber all. Their faith in obtaining benefits for improving their life by purification, achieved by this ritualistic bath is unshakeable.

The Kumbh Mela is a beautiful opportunity for Saints, Spiritual organisations and all ascetics to understand and practice the main tenet of Hindu religion.

Kumbh Mela 2016

In 2016 the Kumbh Mela will be held in Ujjain, on the bank of the river

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