Kumbha Mela

The largest congregation of sadhus, saints and devotees the world has ever witnessed at one place is the Kumba Mela held in India. It is a mega festival where millions gather at for cleansing their souls with a bath in the holy river. This is one of a kind of fair or mela in the world that if seen through an aerial view is similar to an ocean of people. Mostly, four regions in India are blessed to hold this festival. They are Nasik, Hardwar, Ujjain, and Allahabad.

Kumbh Mela

All these places hold the festival as per the location of the planet Jupiter and the Sun. When these two planets are in Leo (Simha Rashi), the mela is organized in Trimbakeshwar, Nasik. Hardwar gets the honour of arranging this festival when the Sun is in Aries (Mesha Rashi). It is the turn of Prayag, Allahabad if the Sun is in Capricorn (Makar Rashi). When both the Sun and Jupiter is in Scorpio (Vrishchik Rashi), Ujjain is the venue. This is the only festival in India the venue of which is considered from the position of the Sun, Moon and the Jupiter in the sky.

History of Kumbha Mela

Fairs and festivals are inseparable from India. The existence of the country is based on the celebrations that were started from the earliest. Though finding concrete evidence about the origin of some festivals is impossible, there is written evidence about Kumbha Mela being started by King Harshavardhana during his rule. And this is being documented not by any Indian, but a famous Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang who visited this country during 629-645 CE. However, according to the Bhagavata Purana, it was started as the river festival.

The Purana states that when Durvasa Rishi cursed demigods (devtas), they lost all the powers and the boon of being immortal. To end the curse, they sought Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva's help and both directed them to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu suggested them to drink the nectar that is deep inside the ocean milk (Ksheeera Sagara). To obtain the nectar, it was necessary to churn it which was not possible to do it all by themselves. Therefore, they lured the demons and asked them to join in the churning process so that they both can drink the nectar (Amrit) and become immortal. The demons readily accepted the offer and joined them.

To churn the ocean, they used Mandara Mountain as the rod and Vasuki, the serpent king as the rope. The demons hold the head of the serpent and the demigods its tail. As the churning starts, the ocean spewed out poison that Lord Shiva consumed. Finally, when the urn of nectar appeared, both the parties engaged in a deadly fight. The battle went on for twelve days and nights which is equivalent to twelve years on earth. As both were engaged in the fight, Lord Vishnu in a bird form took the nectar pot and flew away. While flying over the sky, few drops of the nectar fall in Nasik, Hardwar, Ujjain and Allahabad. Hence, the mela is organized in these places turn wise and according to the zodiacal position of the celestial bodies.

The Rituals of Kumbha Mela

Allahabad is the place where all the three holy rivers, Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati merge at one place. So bathing in the holy river is the main event of this festival that washes away all the sins of the previous and present birth from one's life.

Millions of people and Naga Sadhu gather at the site for a holy bath. Many sages are seen with ashes smeared all over their bodies. The temples near the river are decorated with lights, thousands of diyas are lighted and set floating on the river turning the night into a day with its glare. The prayers, devotional songs, the blowing of the conch shell, the constant ringing of the temple bells, the continuous recital of mantras, and the chorus of millions filled the atmosphere with intense devotion. The emotions of all the devotees and the prayers coming out from deep inside their heart are so intense that even the clouds rejoice the view.

Sadhus and devotees are seen submerged in devotion. Men and women lie face down on the road with hands clasp as a sign of respect to the God. Sadhus takr out a procession on elephants on the roads and over the makeshift bridge on the river Ganga. Flowers are strewn on the saints, ascetics and devotees throughout the procession. Many religious offerings are made during this festival. The sound of the drums and trumpets, the dance of the ascetics in the procession and chants of "Bum Bum Bole" and "Har Har Mahadev" by devotees reaches the heaven.

Kumba Mela is the mega event and the largest gathering of saints and devotees at one place. This is the only festival where one gets to see the devotion and faith that is deeper than the ocean.