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Significance of Mahamagam tank at Kumbakonam and the festival.
Holy tank at Kumbakonam!
How Kumbakonam has become famous?
In India, a major festival is Mahakumbamela” which is celebrated once in twelve years, when the Jupitar is in “Simha rasi” while the Sun is in “Kumba rasi”. The main celebration is on a full moon day when the star “Maga” is in “simha rasi”. It is believed that taking bath in holy rivers is the most auspicious one. While the people from North India take dips in Ganges along its pilgrim spots like Triveni in Allahabad, Ganges in Varanasi, Krishna in Andhra Pradesh and river Cauvery in South India.
In Kumbakonam near Thanjavur, there is a tank sanctified by legends which is considered as holy and auspicious and many lakhs of devotees gather here and take a dip in the holy tank called “Mahamaga Kulam” Already more than five lakhs devotees took bath in the tank for the past five or six days, today is considered most holy since today is full moon day with the star Magam. Hence the State government and local authorities have made very elaborate arrangements for the smooth flow of devotees to take dip in the holy tank. Almost all the presiding deities are taken around the town and brought to the enclosure near the tank and holy bath is offered to the idols consecrated by the water of many rivers in India. The arrangement is so made that the water from the deities are let out in the tank. During the time of bathing of idols, all the devotees simultaneously take bath in the tank. Officers and personal from Police department, and special security forces are guarding the tank and the temples there. Hence the entire town Kumbakonam has been brought under the security ring of authorities.
The heads of different religious mutts gather here during the holy occasion and take a dip in the tank. Hence, the entire town is busting with religious sentiments and all the roads are bristling with human heads everywhere. Free food is offered by Sastra University, a famous and renowned one in the vicinity. More than one crore rupees have been offered by the University. Such philanthropic activities are legend during the occasion.
I would like to narrate the story behind the famous festival. In Hindu scriptures, each aeon has been designated as Sathya yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kaliyuga. Each one lasts for several lakhs of years. The total works out to 43, 20,000 human years. When each yuga ends, there will be total annihilation of all created beings including all species. During such annihilation, the vital life seeds are protected in a vessel and kept high in the mountain top. During the period, water submerges the world and during such time, the vessel containing the life seeds have drifted far and landed in the place where the Mahamaga tank is situated in Kumbakonam. Lord Shiva pierced the vessel with an arrow and the contents dissipated in several places. Hence people consider that the vessel containing the holy nectar has made the tank, the holiest place in the globe. Hence, those who take bath in the tank during the above period are rid of their past sins and become eligible to merge with God in this birth.
Hence people from all over India, throng to this temple town during this period. The town boasts several huge temples built for the various forms of godhead like Shiva, Mahavishnu and goddess. Hence this town is icon for the entire South India after Kancheepuram, which boasts around 108 temples. The holy tank is big with around 6 acres of area. There are twenty one small wells within the tank, each one named after a god or goddess. During the occasion of Mahakumbamela, it is presumed that the water from all the holy rivers of India congregate and get mixed in the tank. Hence, it is doubly beneficial for anyone to take bath in the tank during such auspicious occasion. All the sins committed by the individual are removed by taking a dip there at this time. Hence residents of nearby places and states make it a point to visit the temple town and take a holy dip in the tank. The government and Local Administration deserve praise for conducting this celebration in a peaceful and orderly manner so far!