One plunge into the holiest water promises purification of sins, cleansing of the soul, abundant blessings, and a straight ticket to heaven. No wonder, Kumbh Mela has become such a hype! Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest religious event in the world.
This auspicious festival will be there for 55 days and has great mythological and social importance. It started in January 15 and will last till March 4.
The Kumbh Mela is held four times over the period of 12 years, while the Purna Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years. The Kumbh Mela that is taking place this year in Prayagraj is the Ardh Kumbh Mela. This is held every six years either in Prayagraj or Haridwar.
This year 20 million people are expected to assemble in Prayagraj from 15th January to 4th March for the Ardh Kumbh Mela.
Mythology behind Kumbh
According to Hindu mythology, there was a raging war between demigods and demons for the possession of an elixir for eternal life. During the war, Jayanta, the son of Lord Indra, caught the sight urn filled with nectar and snatched it from Lord Dhanvantari and flew off taking the form of a bird. But as Guru Shankaracharya, the guru of demons, noticed Jayanta with the potion of nectar, he alerted all the demons to follow him. Jayanta was on the run for 12 days to ensure that the demons didn’t get hold of the elixir. Finally, he hid the potion in four places-Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. These places are now the homes of the Kumbh Mela.
Unique Attractions at the Kumbh Mela
Besides the main occasion involved in this fair of bathing in the celestial confluence of three significant rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati, there are several other things to do at this site.
You can visit the place to observe the enormous yajnas that take place with Vedic mantras and chants related to Hindu mythology. One of the important aspects of this fair is the donation of several things including clothing, food, and many more to the saints.
1. Naga Sadhus
The Kumbh Mela is one of the opportunities to see the reclusive Naga sadhus, some of whom lives in caves after taking a vow of celibacy. Shaivanti Naga Sadhus are one the most unique attraction at the Kumbh Mela. People are really eager to know their mysterious lifestyle and philosophy. And in the holiest royal bath, Naga Sadhus get the right to take a bath first. The Naga Sadhus remain naked, enamored with their whole body.
2. Watch the Peshwai
Peshwai is a procession that marks the beginning of the festival and is celebrated with much pomp and show. Naga Sadhus make a grand entry on their horse, elephants, or carriages and urge people to join the procession. Saints also dance on their hymns of Lord Shiva while performing acrobats and stunts with their swords.
3. Take a holy dip
The holy water is called the Triveni Sangam, the convergence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati River. You can take the holy dip on any day but to take a royal bath on auspicious dates, you need to make arrangements before. For Shahi Snan devoted believers like Naga Sadhus and other saints are given the priority.
The royal bath is supposed to be an extremely enchanting experience. The banks are beautifully decorated with rangoli. The saints and devotees chant and pray throughout the night. It’s an incredible experience!
4. Prayagraj on Foot
Explore Prayagraj and dig into the history with the guided Sangam Walk organized by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The walk includes a walk around some popular tourist spots such as Allahabad Fort, Shankar Viman Mandapan, Bade Hanumanji Temple, Ram Ghat and many more such sites. You will ascertain a lot of hidden stories of Prayagraj with this guided tour.
5. River Cruise
River cruises have been organized by the government that goes from Sujawan Ghat to Rail Bridge and then Boat Club Ghat to Sarasvati Ghat and Kila Ghat. These cruises will surely enhance the festive experience. You will get to soak in the blissful atmosphere while you witness the Ghats.
6. Dance, Music, Art, and Culture
The Kumbh Mela has five pandals, the Ganga Pandal being the biggest of all. And each pandal conducts different performances ranging from traditional dance to musical shows with more than 2000 folk and tribal artistes delivering more than 500 programs. This is something that you should not miss at all.
7. Light and Sound Show
This is an initiative taken by the Yogi Government to showcase the light and sound show at the Prayagraj Fort wall every day. If you are enthusiastic about the show, book the tickets in advance to avoid any hassle at the last moment. This would be a completely different experience for the first-timers as well as for others well.
8. Marketing of different brands
For sampling, selling and brand engagement the Kumbh Mela provides an excellent opportunity for the brands. Around 100 brands have participated in the Kumbh Mela 2019. Not just FMCG brands but also airlines, mobile companies have grabbed the opportunity. Brands like Welspun are marketing their new range of “Quick Dry” towels with an aim to generate buzz in the market. The brands are creatively and whole-heartedly involved in the mela. And this is quite fascinating and interesting.
9. Important Dates of Kumbh Mela 2019
All days are considered as sacred, but some days are spiritually overcharged and come with their own exclusive status. Here are the important dates on which you should visit the Kumbh Mela.
Now, you just have one auspicious date to visit the Kumbh Mela.
Here are the highlights of the Shahi Snans held on important dates:
15th January-Makar Sankranti:
The day marks the movement of the sun into the next astrological position according to the Hindu calendar.
The Shahi Snan began at 4am on the first day of the Kumbh Mela. Sadhus from different areas took a dip in the river Ganga. It was after the midnight that hundreds of devotees from India and aboard began to precede towards the bathing Ghats. The saints and other devotees sang and chanted throughout the night. The first day of the Kumbh Mela catered a huge crowd.
The unofficial beginning of the Kumbh Mela
The day of Purnima is important for all the Hindus. As such there were several events held on this day in Prayagraj. There was a Pausha Purnima bath on Sangam beach. A grand Shobha Yatra of Shree Vaani Madhav Ji was held followed by several cultural and religious events.
4th February-Mauni Amavasya:
Considered the most auspicious day for a holy dip in the water.
As this day is considered very auspicious during these 55 days, number of Ghats were increased. A 6 km jetty was prepared for bathing at Sangam Noose. All the facilities were made available right from blankets to food. And an enormous crowd took a dip on this day.
10th February-Basant Panchami:
This day marks the beginning of the spring and is devoted the Goddess Sarasvati. It is a prominent harvest festival in North India.
On the occasion of Basant Panchami, several devotees and saints took a bath in Triveni from the midnight. Around 10 million people took a royal bath on this day. During the royal bath, flower showers were performed by the helicopter on saints and devotees.
19th February-Maghi Poornima:
It’s the big day! The devotees believe that a dip in the holy water on this day guarantees a ticket straight to heaven. All your sins are washed off with a dip on this auspicious day.
Maghi Poornima is also known as “Parv Snan” and is part of the six important bathing days during the Kumbh. Lakhs of devotees and saints took a royal bath on this auspicious day. This day also marked the end of the month-long penance period of Kalp Wasi. And this day attracted the major number of the devotees.
4th March-Maha Shivratri:
This is the last day of Kumbh Mela. This day of the month is celebrated with much enthusiasm in large parts of India, as it symbolizes the overcoming of darkness.
Now, it’s your turn to witness the Kumbh Mela.
A warm and positive vibe is waiting for you in this festive fair, which surely needs no advertising. So, pack your bags for one of the biggest festivals of India.