The Kumbh Mela is considered as one of the world’s oldest and most significant gathering of religious pilgrims and is also one of the most significant Hindu pilgrimages. The Kumbh Mela is over 2000 years old and has been documented by Chinese travellers to India during the reign of King Harshwardhan, and the 2013 Kumbh Mela held in Haridwar witnessed over 100 million visitors.
The Kumbh Mela is held every 3 years in a rotation in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain, hence each location host the Kumbh Mela once in 12 years, with the next Kumbh Mela to be held in Allahabad in 2019 followed by Haridwar in 2022.
Every 6 years, Ardh Kumbh Mela is hosted by Haridwar and Allahabad. Kumbh Mela is also known as the festival of the sacred pitcher as Kumbh literally translates as a pitcher in Sanskrit. The story behind the Kumbh mela goes back to mythological times when it is said that Gods were used to residing on Earth and demons were causing havoc over the world as the God’s were weakened by a curse of Sage Durvasa.
It was then that Lord Brahma advised the Gods to churn out the nectar of immortality with the help of the demons. Upon learning about the plan of the Gods, the demons decided not to share the nectar with the Gods which lead to a 12-day chase, during which it is believed that some of the nectar fell in four places, namely the present day Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.
Hindus believe that the waters of these holy rivers turn into nectar during the dates when the Kumbh Mela is held with devotees believing that taking a dip in the sacred rivers during the Kumbh Mela liberates a person from all their past sins and they are eternally blessed by the divine waters of the holy rivers. These dates are calculated and determined according to the zodiac positions of the planet of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon.
Travellers and tourist can experience several divine encounters at this event and witness holy men from many different Hindu sects. For example, the Nagas, who do not wear anything, the Kalpwasis, who bathe a day thrice, the Urdhawavahurs, who believe in putting their bodies through extreme austerity with each sect has their own sacred ritual which the travellers can witness during the Kumbh Mela.
Travelers can also experience a mix of religious and cultural features of Hinduism with the atmosphere filled with chiming bells, smell of fragrant flowers and incense in the air, sounds of Vedic hymns, chants, mantras, drum beats etc throughout the mela, sadhus from different akharas or orders proceeding with the gold and silver chariots with devotees pulling them etc.
Every pilgrim at the Kumbh Mela showcases paramount of vigour and flair desiring for the cleansing of their soul and washing away their past sins in the holy waters of the sacred rivers at the site of the Kumbh Mela.
Kumbh Mela is one of the largest human congregations on the Earth.
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