Hindus worldwide are known to celebrate their festivals with the utmost intensity. These festivals are celebrated sometimes to rejoice and sometimes to appease their God in hope to attain salvation. The Kumbh Mela in India catches the maximum attention, gathering all the devotees all across the globe. The population of Kumbh Mela exceeds the population of any holy gathering in the world. It is said that the pilgrims visit the Kumbh Mela to bathe in the holy river and perform significant rituals in order to wash away their sins of the past. The Kumbh Mela is evidence of the power and the Unity that the Hindus possess and it also shows some sort of enduring belief in the spiritual ethics. The devotees attend this holy festival by forgetting all the differences of their caste and religion.
Did you know the history behind the famous Kumbh Mela?
This started in the 8th century when the famous saint ‘Shankara’ promoted this holy festival. He here plays a very important role in associating the saintly devotees in attending the Kumbh Mela. Rumors are that listening tales from the Holy Saints and bathing in the holy river are actually the two most attracting things about the Kumbh Mela.
Let me begin by telling you all the amazing facts about the Kumbh Mela (that you probably didn’t know)
- The Kumbh Mela takes place at an interval of three years, switching between its location of conduct –Haridwar (river Ganga), Prayag (Triveni Sangam of three holy rivers –Yamuna, Ganga, and Saraswati), Ujjain(river Kshipra), and Nasik(river Godavari).
The Kumbh Mela is originally organized every three years and not as 12 as believed to be. Kumbh Mela is held at all the four places, Ardha Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar and Prayag (Allahabad) every six years, Purna Kumbh Mela is only conducted at Prayag every 12 years, and Maha Kumbh Mela is held again only at Prayag every 144 years.
Now, you must be thinking as to why the venues are switched between only these four places. The answer to your queries is, actually hidden in the Hindu Mythology, where it is believed that Lord Vishnu dropped “Amrita” from the “Amrita Kalash (Kumbh)” at these four places. At the time of churning the ocean i.e. “Samudra Manthan” the Devtas and Asuras started a fight to find the “Amrita Kalash” as it was touted that whomsoever took a sip from this will have infinite wealth and will be immortal. While saving the Kalash from the Asuras, a few drops of “Amrita” got spilled into these four places and ever since The Kumbh Mela has started at these four holy places.
- The story behind Kumbh Mela dates back to the time when the Devas (gods) resided on Earth. Due to the curse given by Sage Durvasa, the Devas were weakened and began to lose their powers, which gave the Asuras (demons) even better chance to run amok through the three worlds thereby causing havoc all over.
Lord Brahma advised Devas to churn the milk of ocean (Kshirasagara) in order to extract the nectar of immortality, but it had to be done with the help of the Asuras. The Gods planned on not sharing the nectar (Amrita) with the Asuras, as it would make their evil powers even more strong. When the Asuras found out about this plan, they chased them for 12 days (according to the calendar that we follow it is 12 years).
- There is this famous Hindu belief that who-so-ever bathes in the sacred waters during Kumbh gets one step closer to salvation by being eternally blessed. It helps in washing away all their past sins and provides spiritual and materialistic happiness.
Hence the dates on which the Kumbh Mela is held is calculated according to a combination of zodiac positions of Jupiter (Brihaspati) and the sun, as it is believed that the waters of the sacred rivers (mentioned above) turn into nectar (Amrita).
- Jupiter and Sun in Leo position –Nashik.
- Sun in Aries position –Haridwar.
- Jupiter in Taurus and the sun in Capricorn position –Prayag.
- Jupiter and the sun both in Scorpio position –Ujjain.
- The Kumbh Mela held in the year 2013 in Allahabad attracted a record crowd of approximately 10 crores.
Though we all know that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet physically at the Sangam in Allahabad, but according to the Hindu beliefs there is a third mystical river Saraswati, that joins them as well. To care for these 10 crore people attending the Kumbh Mela there were 141 temporary hospitals, staffed with 243 doctors and more than 40,000 toilets and 50,000 police officers were appointed.
Head is spinning already? Hold on there are so many more amazing facts to come.
- A number of holy men from various Hindu sects attend the Mela, like the Nagas (who do not wear any clothes), Kalpwasis (who bathe thrice a day), and Urdhawavahurs (they believe in putting their body through severe austerities). They come to the Mela in order to perform all the sacred rituals that have relevance to their respective groups. These saints truly understand the significance of the legendary event –Kumbh Mela.
- This holy festival is over 2000 years old! The very first written evidence of this Mela is found in the accounts of the Chinese traveler Xuanzang, who visited India during the reign of the King Harshavardhana.
- The Kumbh Mela creates 650,000 job posts approximately and was estimated to earn around Rs 12,000 crore in 2013.
The Kumbh Mela not only serves the purpose for Hindu beliefs but it also helps in increasing the economy of the country in form of various businesses and job posts. Though the Hindu calendar is full of several fasts and festivals, spread out throughout the year the Kumbh Mela is considered to be one of the most important festivals of Hinduism. As devoted Hindus, we must observe this festival with great reverence and devotion in order to appease our Gods and seek their blessings. If you are a true devotee or just an enthusiast I will suggest you attend this Holy festival at least once in your lifetime.