The Kumbha mela said to be the largest religious gathering in the world, occuring once in every 12 years is scheduled to be in Allahabad in 2013. The Magh mela lasts for a month ie around January - Feburary and the bath at this auspicious time in the triveni sangam (the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers) is said to give spititual powers. The mela which comes after 12 years is called Kumbha mela and is much preferred and the Ardh kumbha mela is celebrated in 4 years in rotation at the 4 spiritual places like Haridwar, Ujjain, Allahabad and Nashik .
Important Bathing Date for Kumbh Mela 2013
27th January (Sunday) - Paush Purnima
6th February (Wednesday) - Ekadashi Snan
10th February (Sunday) - Mauni Amavasya Snan (Main Bathing Day)
15th February (Friday) - Basant Panchami Snan
17th February (Sunday) - Rath Saptami Snan
18th February (Monday) - Bhisma Ekadashi Snan
25th February (Monday) - Maghi Purnima Snan
The history of Kumbh Mela dates back to the creation of the Universe legends. Legend has it that the demigods had lost their power because of the curse of Durvasa muni. Lord Vishnu told them that they could regain their power if they 'churn the ocean of milk' to get the nectar of immortality, and work with their enemies ie demons and share their booty. They did so but when the Kumbha containing the amrita appeared there started a bitter fight for 12 days and 12 nights equivalent to 12 years. An angy Vishnu incarnated as Mohini Murti flew away with the pot of elixir spilling drops of the amrita in Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nasik the places where the Kumbh mela is celebrated.
Even a man like Mark Twain was attracted by the Kumbh. After visiting it in 1895, he observed, "It is wonderful the power of a faith like that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old 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 fear, I dont know. No matter what the impulseis, the act born of it is beyong imagination."
A visit to Kumbh Mela
The Kumbha mela is a time where the entire open spaces are covered by grey coloured tents, with different coloured flags and banners waving high to distinguish the 'akhadas', to which the various sadhus hail from. The smell of dhoop, agarbattis, wood fill the air apart from the rush and crowds everywhere. Kumbha mela is mysterious in everyway, it displays a new world where the saints and sadhus, with long batterd hair, long nails, possessing mystical powers question your values and the very foundation on which our life is based.
The Sangam is the confluence of Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati (which is now dried up). The holy bath in this confluence is the main highlight of the spiritual journey. The other highlight is the attendance of various self realized persons who have otherwise kept themselves away from mankind and live in the remotest areas. The darshan or discourses of these learned people itself puts you in the route of cconsciousness.
The Kumbha mela procession is lead by Nagas (the naked sadhus). They are above all senses and sufferings and practise celibacy in the higher mountain areas. The followers of Lord Shiva there have matted hair and have their bodies covered with ashes. They descend into the icy water in groups of hundreds and thousands, they are followed by the Vairagis who are Vishnu devotees, followed by many other sects like Madhavas, Gaudiyas etc. Only after the bath of these holy men that pilgrims are allowed.
A mother was sprinkling a few drops of water on the head of her new born child, an elderly group were determined to take a dip in the icy cold water. The pilgrim gather the strength for this by the chanting of mantras and hymns. Those who had the holy dip emerged into their blankets shivering with cold.
There are various performances, dances, classical music and other programmes held here. Many palm readers and mystic astrologers set up shops along the river offering a look into the future. Food is vegetarian.
Hope in the infinite, truth in the higher conscious world, the infinite realm of divine consciousness is the faith or the ground on which the pilgrims stand. The 2013 Kumbha mela again promises a gateway to this transcendental world