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KUMBH MELA INFORMATION

KUMBH MELA INFORMATION

     Kumbh Mela is one of the hallowed festivals of India and is organized at a big scale. According to the scholars, it is believed that when Gods and demons were having fight over the nectar then Lord Vishnu flew away with the pot of nectar spilling drops of nectar at four different places; where we celebrate Kumbh melas, those were haridwar,Prayag,Nashik and Ujjain.

Kumbhmela: When and Where ?

  • The celebration of Kumbh Mela depends on the position of Jupiter (Bruhaspati) and the sun. When the Sun is in Aries (Mesh Rashi) and Jupiter in Aquarius, it is celebrated in Haridwar.
  • When Jupiter is in Taurus (Vrishabha Rashi) and the Sun is in Capricorn (Makar Rashi), then kumbh is celebrated at Prayag.

Kumbhmela at Haridwar Kumbhmela at Prayag
  • Mela is celebrated in Ujjain when Jupiter and the Sun are in Scorpio (Vrishchik Rashi).
  • It is said that when the Jupiter and the sun falls on the zodiac sign, Leo; then Kumbh Mela is celebrated at Trimbakeshwar in Nasik.

Kumbhmela at Ujjain title= Kumbhmela at Nasik

Sacred Rivers for Kumbh Mela

The Site of the Observance Rotating Between Four Pilgrimages Places on Four Sacred Rivers
  • Haridwar (Uttarakhand) on the Ganges River.
  • Prayag, Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna
  • Nasik (Maharashtra) on the Godavari River.
  • Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) on the Shipra River.

Most Significant Days during Kumbh mela

    A Holy bath during this period carries special significance. Those who take a holy bath in the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri acquire pious credits.

1.Paush Pornima

    The day occurs when the moon is full in the Hindu month of Paush. This is the last full moon of winter. By this time, the sadhu and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive at the Kumbh Mela.

2.Mauni Amavasya snan

    For the holy men and women, this is the main bathing day. New members to various holy monastic orders receive their first initiation on this day.

3.Basant Panchmi Snan

    This is the fifth day of the luminous half of the lunar month and is the beginning of spring in North India.

4.Rathsaptmi Snan

    Rath Saptami festival is observed on the seventh day of Shukla Paksha in the Magh Month (January – February) in the traditional Hindu calendar.

5.Bhisma Ekadashi Snan

    On this day, Bhishma Pithamaha, the oldest, wisest, most powerful and most righteous person belonging to the Kuru dynasty (approx. over 5000 years ago), narrated the greatness of Lord Krishna through Sri Vishnu Sahasranama to Yudhishtira, the oldest brother of Pandavas.

Kumbh Mela : A Spiritual Fair

    Kumbh Mela in India is attended by pilgrims coming from all walks of life. Many of these people often travel long distances to come to these places, tolerating many physical discomforts such as sleeping in the open air in near freezing weather. They willingly bear these difficulties just to have the chance of taking a bath in the sacred river at Kumbh Mela. The fair, however, is incomplete without the presence of the ascetics and sadhus. The Nagas, Urdhwavahurs, Parivrajakas, Shirshasins and Kalpvasis are a common sight at Kumbh Mela. These holy men or sadhus initiate the ritual bath at Kumbh Mela. Many of the devout Hindus assembled at Kumbh touch their feet and listen to them in the hope of gaining spiritual knowledge. This is followed by the collective dip in the holy waters. After the bath, the pilgrims wear new clothes and move to the riverbanks to perform puja.
     Over the years, the importance of the Kumbh Mela has risen several times. In present times, the fair is attended by millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. For a vast majority of people, it is once-in-a-lifetime trip. For thousands of traders, shopkeepers and businessmen it is the time for some brisk business.

The Sadhus at the Kumbh Mela

The sadhus and other holy men are an integral part of the Mela. Pilgrims who attend it come to see and listen to these men, in order to gain spiritual enlightenment.

There are various types of sadhus

  • Nagas - Naked sadhus who smear their bodies with ash and have long matted hair. Constant exposure to the weather makes them resistant to temperature extremes. Their eyes are bloodshot from constantly smoking charas(marijuana), which they believe aids enlightenment.
  • Urdhwavahurs - who have emaciated bodies from rigid spiritual practices.
  • Parivrajakas - who have taken a vow of silence.
  • Shirshasins - who remain standing, sleep with their heads resting on a vertical pole, and meditate standing on their heads.
  • Kalpvasis - who remain by the river banks and devote their time to meditating, performing rituals, and bathing numerous times a day.

Who take bath first and purana ?

     Tradition ascribes the Kumbh Mela"s origin to the 8th-century philosopher Shankara, who sought to strengthen Hindu religion by instituting regular gatherings of learned ascetics for discussion and debate. The festival"s most important historical figures have been the naga akhadas, militant ascetic orders whose members formerly made their living as mercenary soldiers and traders. These akhadas still monopolize the holiest spots at each Kumbh"s most propitious moment, and although the government now enforces an established bathing order, history records bloody disputes between groups vying for precedence.      Aside from the akhadas, attendees at the Kumbh Mela come from all sections of Hindu religious life, ranging from sadhus (holy men), who remain naked year-round or practice the most severe physical discipline, to hermits, who leave their isolation only for these pilgrimages, and even to silk-clad teachers using the latest technology. The religious organizations represented range from social-welfare societies to political lobbyists. Vast crowds of disciples, friends, and spectators join the individual ascetics and organizations, making the Kumbh Mela the world"s largest religious gathering. Attendance at the festival sometimes reaches an estimated 10 million.

Origin of the "Kumbh"

     The origin of the Kumbh dates back to the creation of the universe. According to Hindu Mythology, when all Gods and Goddesses became weak due to the curse then God Brahma, the creator of the Universe, suggested them to churn the Milky Ocean for Amrita, the nectar. It is believed that the 'Amrita' was the nectar of immortality. Therefore, untiring efforts had been made by Gods and Asuras (devils) to obtain the same.
     They started churning the ocean and this event is known as 'Samudramanthan'. It started with the Mandara Mountain as the churning rod and Vasuki, a kind of serpent as the rope. After churning the ocean for a period of around 1,000 years, Dhanwantari, the divine healer appeared with holding a Kumbh (Pitcher).
Mandara Mountain Dhanwantariholding a Kumbh
To stop the Amrita Kalasha (Pot of Nectar) being forcibly taken by Asuras, the four Gods Surya, Chandra, Bruhaspati and Shani took it into their custody and assured all of them that it will be equally distributed in God and demons. When demons tried to snatch it, all the four Gods ran away with the Amrita Kalasha, hiding it from the Asuras. Then, a battle was fought between Gods and demons for the possession of Amrita Kalasha.
The battle continued till 12 days and 12 nights, equivalent to 12 human years. It is believed that during this battle, the God hide this Amrita Pot at four places-Nashik, Prayag, Ujjain and Haridwar. Kumbh Mela is celebrated at these four designated holy destinations of India.

Why & How Kumbh Mela Became a National Event ?

In order to unite the entire nation of India, a festival must appeal to two distinct strata of society: the intellectual, educated class and the average, less educated and more superstitious class. Religious faith is the basis of unity in spirituality-inclined people. Spiritual people seek those things which will help them progress further toward the Ultimate goal. Our sages understood this, and thus the mythological stories appeal to the hearts of the masses, and the philosophical message and scientific basis appeal to the educated mind. Knowledge, love and grace – is distributed to all, without any discrimination. The great assemblages of sanyasins, yogis, sages and saints reassure and uplift the nation; hence great masses of people rush to the sacred places at the time of Kumbha. Even today, Kumbha Mela requires no advertising. It is a true miracle of God! One cannot even begin to imagine organizing such a function, and yet it just happens by the grace of the words “Kumbha Mela”.

Types of Kumbhmela

  • Maha Kumbh Mela
    Most important Kumbh Mela is the Maha Kumbh Mela (Great Kumbh Mela) that periodically falls every 144 years or after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas, and is held at Allahabad.
  • Ardh Kumbh Mela
    In between, in the sixth year, the Ardh Kumbh Mela (half mela) takes place as well at Allahabad and haridwar.
  • Purna Kumbh Mela
    After every 12 years - last one took place in January 2001 in Allahabad
  • Kumbh Mela
    Every 3rd years, rotating through Prayag, Nasik, Haridwar and Ujjain.
  • Magh Mela
    Annual, held every year except years of Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh Mela Held in Magh (Jan-Feb); hence the name. Only in Allahabad

Kumbha Mela: The Festival of Immortality

    Kumbha Mela is one of the most ancient, yet still living, traditions of India"s glorious past. The festival dates back the pre-Vedic period, as even in the Vedas Kumbha Mela is described as a tradition that is already well established. The popularity of Kumbha Mela has only increased over the millennia, gathering millions together every twelve years at each of the four holy places in which the auspicious event occurs and making it the world"s largest gathering of people on Earth for one common purpose. It is said that even those saints and sages who live in divine isolation, high in the Himalayas, engaged only in meditation and austerities, emerge from the mountains to attend the Kumbha. Kumbha is a world-renowned trademark of India"s proud antiquity, and is a matchlessly divine occasion.
    Kumbha Mela is a microcosm of the beauty and rich diversity of India. One author describes the Kumbha Mela:
    “To watch the Kumbh Mela Processions is to witness the march of the ages. As the holy saints pass by on their various and sundry conveyances — elephants, horses, palanquins, chariots, cars, and camels — they are continually transmitting waves of powerful Shakti (energy) to all the people who witness this awe-inspiring and most auspicious event. Devotees are overwhelmed by the palpable spiritual vibrations that pervade the entire atmosphere.
    While the parade of saints marches towards the Ganges River, the sounds baffle all description — the shout and cries of ash-smeared sadhus mingle with the neighing of horses, trumpeting of elephants, grunting of camels, bellowing of bulls. Gongs and drums beat, trumpets blare, conch shells blow and bells ring.”
    Yet, amidst all the pomp and liveliness, one can also drink in the nectar of India"s ancient spiritual traditions.

After visiting the Kumbha Mela of 1895, the famous author Mark Twain wrote:

     “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people…”
    A new “city” is erected at the time of the Kumbha Mela, a literal city of tents to house the millions of pilgrims who flock there. This year, between 110 to 120 million pilgrims are expected to arrive in Allahabad for the occasion.

Facts of the Maha Kumbh Mela

    The mela is held in the almost dry riverbed of the Ganges River and in the surrounding area.The festival has been getting larger each time it happens. In 1989 they were 16 million people on the main day to watch the procession of monks and in 2001 there were 24 million people on the main day.
    The mela has its own police station, fire station, post office and they rebuild them every 12 years. There were 10.000 security staff at the 2001 mela.

Sacred bath of Kumbhmela

    At the head of the procession were the nagas, India's famed naked holy men. These holy men engage themselves in renunciation of the world in search of equilibrium. They hope to escape the world's concomitant reactions and suffering by their austere practices such as complete celibacy and non-accumulation of material possessions. Thus they are known as liberationists. With matted locks of hair, their bodies covered in ashes, and their tridents (the symbol of a follower of Shiva) raised high, they descended upon the bathing area.
Nagas Sadhu with ashes
  • - Next came the Vaishnava vairagis, the wandering mendicants who dedicate everything to Vishnu, the Sustainer. These saints live a life of service and complete dedication.
  • - Then came the innumerable other sects of ascetics dressed in saffron colored cloth and carrying their staffs of renunciation. All the centuries gone by of India's spiritual evolution were simultaneously there together in the procession. Each in turn bathed in the sangam.
Nagas Sadhu with ashes
  • -Then began the mass bathing of the pilgrims.
One can read importance of places of pilgrimage which offer various benefits even in "Vedas"
  • One can attain heaven by taking holy bath at Prayag and making offerings. – Many devotees offer different services at places of pilgrimage and perform sacred fires to attain "Swarga (heaven)".
  • A person can face most difficult hardships with ease by staying at places of pilgrims
  • When the holy water (teertha) at such places is drunk with utmost faith and devotion,it helps to absolve one from his sins.
  • By having holy bath and undertaking meditation, one gets the energy emitted by evolved Sages residing in Himalayas which helps at all levels. One also gets rid of many ailments and hardships. Many people have experienced that they acquired mental peace at these places.
Devotees get benefit of four main "Parvas (Period)" at this "Kumbh Mela" of Prayagraj     There are 4 main "Parvas" viz. "Makar-Sankrant", "Amavasya (new moon day)", "Vasant-Panchami" and Maghi Pournima. Bath taken on these days has special significance.

Astrological and Scientific Background – why 12 years ?

    Indian festivals are not only filled with gaiety and joy, but they invariably have solid scientific and historical foundations, which lead to the utmost physical rejuvenation, psychological healing and spiritual upliftment.
    It is according to scientific methods that the place and date of each Kumbha Mela is determined. Whenever the planet Bruhaspati (Jupiter) enters the astrological sign Vrishabha at the same time that Surya (the Sun) and Chandra (the Moon) are in Makara, the result is an incredible positive charge in the atmosphere of Prayag (Allahabad). According to Western astrology, this happens when Jupiter enters Taurus, and the Sun and New Moon enter Capricorn. This positive charge affects the water, the air and the entire atmosphere, such that simply being at that special place, and taking a bath in the Ganga, is very conducive to spiritual growth, and physical and emotional well-being.
    As Jupiter takes eleven years, ten months and fourteen days to complete its revolution around the Sun, it means that approximately every twelve years Jupiter moves into its same position. Purna (Full) Kumbha Mela is celebrated when Jupiter reaches this same position, and so Purna Kumbha Mela is celebrated every twelve years.
    The Kumbha Mela is not simply a theoretical ritual, followed blindly. Rather, it is a scientific, historical and thoughtful tradition of Hindu culture.
    Timings: It is celebrated at different locations depending on the position of the planet of Bruhaspati (Jupiter), the sun and the moon.

Positions of the Planets and celebrated location

Kumbh Mela occurs at Nasik, Haridwar, Allahabad and Ujjain when Jupiter, Sun, Moon and Saturn are in a particular planetary position. The planetary position is as follows –

Place Position Position Details
Nasik Jupiter in Leo Sun and Moon in Leo Sun & Jupiter or Jupiter,Sun and Moon are in conjunction
Haridwar Jupiter in Aquarius Sun and Moon are in Cancer or Leo Planets are in square aspect
Ujjain Jupiter in Leo Sun is in Aries or Saturn is in Libra Jupiter and Sun are in different parts of the sky at 60°
Allahabad (Prayag) Jupiter in Aries or Taurus Sun and Moon in Capricorn Sun & Moon are in conjunction, Jupiter & Sun are separated at 120° and 60°

Activities at Kumbhmela

    Kumbh Mela is the largest human gathering which attracts numerous devotees from different religious backgrounds from all across the globe. During the period of the Kumbh Mela, a tent city comes up for over a month by the banks of the river where the fair is held to provide shelter to thousands of pilgrims. A number of Hindu religious organisations set up camps in the fairgrounds during this period.
Sadhu with ashes Nagas
    Kumbh Mela is celebrated with great pomp and show, crowd gets crazy and scenario of the fare is breath taking. Devotees congregate and perform several rites and rituals at mela.
    The pilgrimage is held for about one and a half months at each of these four places where it is believed in Hinduism that drops of nectar fell from the Kumbh carried by gods after the sea was churned. The festival is billed as the "world"s largest congregation of religious pilgrims". There is no scientific method of ascertaining the number of pilgrims, and the estimates of the number of pilgrims bathing on the most auspicious day may vary.
    Numbers of ceremonies are performed like religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and poor, out of which bathing is considered as most sacred and takes place at the bank of river in every town, where Kumbh is celebrated.
    In different spots of the region, folk theatre groups get busy enacting different stories and scenes from sacred Hindu texts. The myth of the "Amrita-Kumbha" is performed as a dramatic performance which is lapped up by the assembled devotees. People from all classes of society come in multitudes to the fairgrounds driven by the desire to take a dip in the sacred river waters as well as to receive the blessings of the great holy men assembled in the fair. Many of the devotees live in camps and ashrams (temples) for the whole duration of the mela and lead a sacred life. Such a living is called "Kalpavas" and those who live thus are called "Kalpvasi".
Sadhu with ashes Nagas
    No matter where you go within the Mela, there will be people sitting in satsang with India"s saints and sages, bathing in the sacred rivers, meditating at the banks, engaging in yogic practices and attending yoga classes, chanting mantras and singing bhajans. Even the 330 million gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon are said to attend the Mela on the inner planes. Every corner of the Mela is permeated with ancient tradition and spirituality.

Rituals of Kumbh

    From spiritual point of view, the position of planets during Kumbh Mela is known to be the best for both meditation as well as concentration.
    It is believed that a dip in the holy waters of Ganga, which according to Hindu astrologers turns into nectar during Kumbh, frees one of all sins and also liberates from the sufferings of birth and death. Also it is said that the water of Ganga gets positively charged due to the electromagnetic radiation of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter during the Kumbh Mela.
    Ganga aarti ceremony is performed here during the Kumbh Mela which is very uplifting. The priests holding huge fire bowls in their hands, the gongs in the temples ringing loudly creating melodious sound and devotees chanting with great devotion are a part of the aarti. After the aarti the devotees float earthen diyas decorated with flowers in the holy water, which is a sight to behold.
Ganga Aarti Floating Diyas
    The main ritual is theritual bath. Hindus believe that submerging themselves in the sacred waters on the most auspicious day of the new moon will absolve them and their ancestors of sin, thus ending the cycle of rebirth. Pilgrims start lining up to bathe from around 3 a.m. on this day. As the sun comes up, the different groups of sadhus move in procession towards the river to bath. The Nagas usually lead, while each group tries to outdo the others with more grandeur and fanfare. The moment is magical, and everyone is absorbed in it. After bathing, the pilgrims wear fresh clothes and proceed to worship by the river bank. They then walk around listening to discourses from the various sadhus.
Ritual Bath one of the Sadhu at Kumbhmela

Kumbha

  • Meaning of Kumbha

        “Kumbha” literally means a pitcher. The reference is to the pot which emerged after the gods and demons churned the milky ocean, filled with the nectar of immortality. It is one of the ratna from 14 Ratnas which emerged during Sagar Manthan However, the symbolism inherent when we speak of “Kumbha Mela” far transcends the literal translation. A Kumbha Mela indicates the beginning of an auspicious and holy event. A full-Kumbha also signifies knowledge, happiness and bliss.
        The above Sanskrit shlokas tell us that the trinity of gods – Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer and Shiva the Destroyer– in addition to all the Goddesses, Mother Earth with Her seven islands, and all knowledge in the form of the Rigveda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda and Atharva-Veda exist in Kumbha. Thus, Kumbha is the symbol of all that is, and all that exists.
  • Definition of the word "Kumbh"

        "Kumbh" means a pot which is a symbol of purity/ sacredness and well-being: The literal meaning of "Kumbh" is a "kalash (pot)". Since "kalash" is a symbol of purity and well-being, it is also called "Mangal kalash". In Astrology, the word "Kumbh" is used for a zodiac sign.
  • Religious and spiritual importance of "Kumbh"

        "Kumbh" as a symbol of greatness of Deities, natural wealth, materialistic prosperity, storage of knowledge and science. It is abode of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu; in its neck, abode of Sri Mahadev and at its base, There is abode of Sri Brahmadeva. It is also stated that in the centre of "Kumbh", there is abode of all Deities, all Seas, Mountains, Earth and 4 "Vedas"; therefore, "Kumbh" has religious and spiritual importance.

Philosophy behind Kumbhmela

    Kumbha Mela stands for the source of divine beauty and knowledge. Since time immemorial, the Indian and Hindu cultures have been concerned about the welfare of the entire planet. Even in the mythology, the Kumbha Mela meant distribution – not hoarding – of the nectar. However, while “Kumbha” refers to an overflowing pot, it also refers to a body filled with knowledge. So, the nectar of the Kumbha Mela also manifests in the form of knowledge, which liberates us while we are still living. The nectar – or knowledge of divinity – lies within this Kumbha (of our body); it must only be churned to the surface. Furthermore, the symbolism of the planetary alignment necessary for Kumbha Mela to occur is deeply poignant. In Hindu culture, the Sun and the moon are representative of human rational intellect and mind, and Jupiter – known as “Guru” in Sanskrit – is the spiritual master. Thus, as the arrangement of these three planetary bodies decide when Kumbha Mela occurs, it is representative of the philosophy that when the human intellect and mind are aligned with the Guru, the result is the realization of immortality. So, it is due to the faith of the people and the thoughtfulness of our seers that this holy occasion is named “Kumbha Mela.”

The Significance of Kumbh Mela in Today's World

    Each year man becomes more and more alienated and he is held more and more as a prisoner unto himself. Kumbh mela allows people to come out of this mechanistic and materialistic life and develop a bond of love with others without any discrimination of caste, creed and color. Thus, an important aspect of Kumbha Mela is the incredible unity amidst diversity that occurs at these sacred occasions. Another important element is the distribution of nectar in the form of real knowledge. In life, the ability to discriminate between right and wrong and the strength to follow the path of true Dharma require only a little more awareness and unfaltering faith. The Kumbha Mela has the great ability to distribute this very nectar to millions.
    Our culture is not only spiritually advanced, but our scriptures have long since taught the messages that are urgent for today"s world. For example, India is the only land where rivers, mountains, trees and animals are not only respected, but are also worshipped. In today"s age of environmental awareness and ecological conservation, everyone knows that mountains, rivers and trees are great natural resources which must be preserved, conserved and used wisely. We have seen the devastating consequences of deforestation, over-industrialization and the pollution of our water sources right here in India. Yet, Indian culture has preached reverence for nature since its inception so many thousands of years ago. Ganga and other rivers irrigate not only our farms but also our hearts, minds and souls. It is our sacred rivers that pilgrims flock for the Kumbha Mela. We must remember that these rivers are sacred and treat them as such. The message of the Kumbha Mela in present times must include a renewed care for the land we call “Mother.” If Kumbha Mela can re-unite us with those sacred roots and with the messages of the scriptures, then it will be giving us the “nectar of immortality.” Then, and only then, we will attain true peace and liberation.

Do's And Don'ts (For Tourist)

  • Do's
    • Pilgrims are requested to use Bathing areas or Ghats that are authorized by Mela administration for their safety and security
    • Pilgrims are requested to use bathing areas nearer to their stay in mela
    • If unidentified object is located ,the mela instructor or police control room should be informed about it
    • Pilgrims are requested to follow traffic rules
    • Garbage should be thrown only in dustbins.
    • Directions and advices given by the central public address system may be followed to avoid inconvenience
    • Pilgrims and travelers are requested to be appropriately attired considering the religious and cultural sensibilities of the event
  • Don'ts
    • Avoid using plastic Bags
    • Washing clothes on river banks is avoided
    • Overcrowding in boats must be avoided
    • use of soaps while bathing in river must be avoided
    • avoid throwing material in river which is used for worship or rituals
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