Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the sacred rivers. The Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years, at four placesum Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad, The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 ‘Purna Kumbh Melas’, or 144 years, is held at Allahabad. Last Maha Kumbh was held in the year 2001
A Kumbh Mela presents a rare opportunity to witness some of India’s oldest and most sacred rituals, passed down over many generations from the kings of India, performed by an elite of special Brahmin priests, and witnessed by monks, sages and sadhus – holy men and women from many different cultures around the world who only rarely appear in public on occasions of great significance such as the Mahakumbh.
Story Behind Kumbh Mela
Mankind’s largest religious festival is related to the mythological story of the creation of the universe. Kumbh derives its name from the immortal Pot of Nectar, which the Demigods (Devtas) and Demons (Asuras) fought over, described in ancient Vedic scriptures. Once the perpetual struggle between Gods and demons – between good and evil – reached a stage, where the Gods were on the verge of losing. The creator Lord Brahma told them that from churning the Ocean of Milk they could produce the nectar of immortality called as Amrit. However, for that they needed the help of the demons. So an armistice between the fighting parties was concluded and they promised to share all that was won by the churning of the Milk Ocean equally. However, when the pot (kumbh) filled with the nectar of immortality appeared they started fighting each other for 12 days and nights (corresponding to 12 human years). Garuda, the celestial bird and vehicle of Lord Vishnu snatched the nectar pot and flew away chased by the demons. During the chase some drops of the nectar of immortality fell on four places on earth. These four places are since believed to have acquired mystical powers. Because 12 days of Gods are equivalent to 12 years for humans; the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once every 12 years in each of the four places – banks of river Godavari in Nasik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar, and at the Sangam of Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Allahabad, where the drops are believed to have fallen. Millions of devout, come together to partake in ritualistic bathing and ceremonies to cleanse themselves of all sins.
Although maybe not as old as the universe the Kumbh Mela was already celebrated 1400 years ago according to a report by the Chinese traveler Huan Tsang.
Forthcoming Kumbh Mela is scheduled to be held in Nasik beginning from 14th July. Nasik is a city in Western India in the state of Maharashtra. Nasik is well connected by rail and road network across all major cities of India