Kumbh Mela

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Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela
2001 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad
Official nameKumbh Mela, Maha Kumbha Mela
Observed byHindus
TypeHinduism
 
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Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela
2001 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad
Official nameKumbh Mela, Maha Kumbha Mela
Observed byHindus
TypeHinduism
An article related to
Hinduism
Om.svg
The Triveni Sangam, or the intersection of Yamuna River and Ganges River and the mythical Sarasvati River, where devotees perform rituals.

Kumbh Mela (/ˌkʊm ˈmlə/ or /ˌkʊm məˈlɑː/; Devanagari: कुम्भ मेला) is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Ganges, river Godavari and river Kshipra, where bathing for purification from sin is considered especially efficacious.

The festival is billed as the biggest religious gathering in the world. In 2001, more than 40 million people gathered on the main bathing day at Allahabad, breaking a world record for the biggest human gathering.[1]

The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad, the Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years,[2] at four places Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years, is held at Allahabad.[2][3]

According to the Mela Administration's estimates, around 70 million people participated in the 45-day Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, in 2007.[4]

The previous Kumbh Mela, held in 2001 in Haridwar, was, before it occurred, estimated by the authorities to attract between 30 and 70 million people.[5][6][7][8] Next Maha Kumbh Mela will start on 27-January-2013 at Allahabad. [9]


Contents

Timing

Kumbh Mela is celebrated at different locations depending on the position of the planet of Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) and the sun. When Jupiter and the sun are in the zodiac sign Leo (Simha Rashi) it is held in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik; when the sun is in Aries '.</ref>

History

The first written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveler, Huan Tsang or Xuanzang (602 - 664 A.D.) who visited India in 629 -645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana.[10][11] However, similar observances date back many centuries, where the river festivals first started getting organised. According to medieval Hindu theology, its origin is found in one of the most popular medieval puranas, the Bhagavata Purana. The Samudra manthan episode (Churning of the ocean of milk), is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana.[12]

The account goes that the demigods had lost their strength by the curse of Durväsä Muni, and to regain it, they approach Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva than they directed all demigods to Supreme Personalty of Godhead Lord Visnu[13] (full story on kumbh mela) and after praying to Lord Visnu, He instructed them for churning ocean of milk Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk) for amrita (the nectar of immortality). This required them to make a temporary agreement with their arch enemies, the demons or Asuras, to work together with a promise of sharing the wealth equally thereafter.[14] However, when the Kumbha (urn) containing the amrita appeared, a fight ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, Lord Vishnu(Incarnates as Mohini-Mürti) flew away with the Kumbha of elixir spilling drops of amrita at four places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.[15]

Attendance

According to The Imperial Gazetteer of India, an outbreak of cholera occurred at the 1892 Mela at Haridwar leading to the rapid improvement of arrangements by the authorities and to the formation of Haridwar Improvement Society. In 1903 about 400,000 people are recorded as attending the fair.[16] During the 1954 Kumbh Mela stampede at Prayag, around 500 people were killed, and scores were injured. Ten million people gathered at Haridwar for the Kumbh on April 14, 1998.[10]

The 1998 Kumbh Mela saw over 10 million pilgrims visiting Hardwar, to take a dip in the holy Ganges river.[17] In 2001, around 1 million people from outside of India and from around the world participated in the Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad, with a total participation of approximately 60 million. This mela was unusually significant due to the planetary positions at the time, a pattern that repeats only once every 144 years.[18]

The ritual

Naga Sadhu procession 1998 Kumbh Mela

The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river in whichever town it is being held that is, Ganga in Haridwar, Godavari in Nasik, Kshipra in Ujjain and Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati) in Prayag (Allahabad). Nasik has registered maximum visitor to 75 million. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages.[citation needed] Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with ashes and powder dabbed on their skin as per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter.[citation needed]

After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote:

It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak 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 it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.[19]

The Traveler's Perspective

From a traveler's perspective, the Kumbh Mela is really crowded and really mellow. Not in the sense of being quiet, in that there's loudspeakers blaring all over the place most of the time, but in the attitude of the pilgrims who come to pay their respects at the mela. There is a certain sense of humility in awe of this major cosmic event that has been celebrated across generations. The administration makes a big effort to keep it clean but there's a lot of sand everywhere since you're on the banks of the river and the sheer magnitude of the event makes it difficult to regulate. Most of the people attending the mela are very simple and from the villages. The devout spend the entire month at the mela.

Most Significant Days During The Kumbh Mela

Makar Sankranti

A Holy bath during this period carries special significance. Those who take a holy bath in the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri acquire pious credits.

Paush Purnima

The day occurs when the moon is full in the Hindu month of Paush. This is the last full moon of winter. By this time, the sadhu and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive at the Kumbh Mela.

Mauni Amavasya Snan

For the holy men and women, this is the main bathing day. New members to various holy monastic orders receive their first initiation on this day.

Basant Panchami Snan

This is the fifth day of the luminous half of the lunar month and is the beginning of spring in North India.

Rath Saptami Snan

Rath Saptami festival is observed on the seventh day of Shukla Paksha in the Magh Month (January – February) in the traditional Hindu calendar.

Bhishma Ekadasi Snan

On this day, Bhishma Pithamaha, the oldest, wisest, most powerful and most righteous person belonging to the Kuru dynasty (approx. over 5000 years ago), narrated the greatness of Lord Krishna through Sri Vishnu Sahasranama to Yudhishtira, the oldest brother of Pandavas.[20]

Recent Kumbha Melas

1894

According to Paramahansa Yogananda in his work the Autobiography of a Yogi, it was on the Kumbha Mela in January 1894 at Allahabad that his Guru Sri Yukteswar met Mahavatar Babaji for the first time.[21]

2001

A procession of Akharas marching over a makeshift bridge over the Ganges river, Kumbh Mela at Prayag, 2001

In 2001, the Kumbh Mela was held in Prayag, aka Allahabad. The India government estimates that about 70 million people came to this festival in north India to bathe in the holy river Ganges where it meets with the also holy Yamuna river. Bathing in the holy waters at this auspicious time is said to wash away your karmic debt. Therefore, it is literally a shortcut to spiritual liberation (moksha), the liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

2003

When the Kumbha Mela was held in Nashik, India, from July 27 to September 7, 2003, 39 pilgrims (28 women and 11 men) were trampled to death and 57 were injured. Devotees had gathered on the banks of the Godavari river for the maha snaan or holy bath. Over 30,000 pilgrims were being held back by barricades in a narrow street leading to the Ramkund, a holy spot, so the sadhus could take the first ceremonial bath. Reportedly, a sadhu threw some silver coins into the crowd and the subsequent scramble led to the stampede.[22][23]

2007

More than 30 million people visited Ardh Kumbh Mela at Prayag.

2010

Haridwar April 14th 2010: Pilgrims gather at the third Shahi Snan in Har ki Pauri to take the Royal Bath in the Ganges. Video still from the documentary "Amrit Nectar of Immortality"[24]

Haridwar hosted the Purna Kumbha mela from Makar Sankranti (14 January 2010) to Shakh Purnima Snan (28 April 2010). Millions of Hindu pilgrims attended the mela. On April 14, 2010, alone approximately 10 million people bathed in the Ganges river.[25] According to officials by mid April about 40 million people had bathed since January 14, 2010.[26] Hundreds of foreigners joined Indian pilgrims in the festival which is thought to be the largest religious gathering in the world.[26][27] To accommodate the large number of pilgrims Indian Railways ran special trains.[28] At least 5 people died in a stampede after clashes between holy men and devotees.[29]

Indian Space Research Organisation took satellite pictures of the crowds with the hope of improving the conduct of the festival in the future.[30]

Future Venues

YearAllahabadNashikUjjainHaridwar
1983Ardh Kumbh---
1986---Kumbh
1989Kumbh---
1991-Kumbh--
1992--KumbhArdh Kumbh
1995Ardh Kumbh---
1998---Kumbh
2001Kumbh---
2003-Kumbh--
2004--KumbhArdh Kumbh
2007Ardh Kumbh---
2010---Kumbh
2013Maha Kumbh---
2015-Kumbh--
2016--KumbhArdh Kumbh
2019Ardh Kumbh---
2022---Kumbh

Here is the details of most auspicious days (Bathing Dates)in year 2013 during Maha Kumbh Festival (mela).[31]

14 January 2013 (Monday) – Makar Sankranti

27 January 2013 (Sunday) – Paush Purnima

6 February 2013 (Wednesday) – Ekadashi Snan

10 February 2013 (Sunday) – Mauni Amavasya Snan (Main Bathing Day)

15 February 2013 (Friday) – Basant Panchami Snan

17 February 2013 (Sunday) – Rath Saptami Snan

21 February 2013 (Thursday) – Bhisma Ekadashi Snan

25 February 2013 (Monday) – Maghi Purnima Snan

Places

Kumbha Mela in Media

Amrita Kumbher Sandhane, a 1982 Bengali feature film directed by Dilip Roy, documents the Kumbh Mela. Kumbha Mela has been theme for many a documentaries, including "Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth" (2001) directed by Graham Day,[32] On 24 Sept, The Hindu reported the great faith in god displayed in kumbh mela at Nasik which had more than 70 million visitors in 2003 kumbh mela. (2004), by Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day,[33][34] Kumbh Mela: Songs of the River (2004), by Nadeem Uddin,[35] and Invocation, Kumbha Mela (2008).[36]

On April 18, 2010, a popular American morning show The CBS Sunday Morning gave an extensive coverage on Haridwar's Kumbh Mela "The Largest Pilgrimage on Earth". Calling it "one of the most extraordinary displays of faith on Earth, a spectacular journey drawing tens of millions of people".

Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela is a 2004 documentary film was set in the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. This film is directed by Nick Day and produced by "Maurizio Benazzo".[37]

On April 28, 2010, BBC reported an audio and a video report on Kumbh Mela, titled "Kumbh Mela 'greatest show on earth'.

On September 30, 2010, the Kumbh Mela featured in the second episode of the Sky One TV series "An Idiot Abroad" with Karl Pilkington visiting the festival.

"Amrit Nectar of Immortality" (2012) is a documentary which was shot at the Kumbh Mela 2010 in Haridwar, this film is directed by Jonas Scheu and Philipp Eyer.[38]

See also

References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b K Shadananan Nair, "Role of water in the development of civilization of India: A review of ancient literature, traditional practices and beliefs", pp. 160–166 of The Basis of Civilization: Water Science?, ed. J. C. Rodda and Lucio Ubertini (Wallingford, Oxon: International Association of Hydrological Science, 2004. ISBN 1-901502-57-0), p.165. Here at Google Books.
  3. ^ The Maha Kumbh Mela 2001 indianembassy.org.
  4. ^ "Ardha Kumbh - 2007: The Ganges River". Mela Administration. http://ardhkumbh.up.nic.in/ganga.htm. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  5. ^ Millions bathe at Hindu festival BBC News, January 3, 2007.
  6. ^ Kumbh Mela pictured from space - probably the largest human gathering in history BBC News, January 26, 2001.
  7. ^ Kumbh Mela: the largest pilgrimage - Pictures: Kumbh Mela by Karoki Lewis The Times, March 22, 2008. Behind paywall.
  8. ^ Kumbh Mela - 25 January 2001 - New Scientist
  9. ^ http://www.mahakumbhfestival.com/kumbh-mela/kumbh-mela-allahabad/
  10. ^ a b Kumbh Mela - Timeline What Is Hinduism?: Modern Adventures Into a Profound Global Faith, by Editors of Hinduism Today, Hinduism Today Magazine Editors. Published by Himalayan Academy Publications, 2007. ISBN 1-934145-00-9. 242-243.
  11. ^ Kumbh Mela Channel 4.
  12. ^ Ramayana, Book I; Canto: XLV - The Quest for the Amrit Ramayana of Valmiki.
  13. ^ Story of Maha Kumbh Mela from Srimad Bhagvatam
  14. ^ The Holiest Day in History TIME, Jan 31, 1977.
  15. ^ Urn Festival TIME, May 1, 1950.
  16. ^ Haridwar The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 13, p. 52.
  17. ^ "Kumbh Mela, a study". Missouri State University. http://courses.missouristate.edu/JLlewellyn/kumbhmela.html.
  18. ^ "Maha Kumbh Mela concludes". The Hindu. http://www.hinduonnet.com/2001/02/22/stories/0222000p.htm.
  19. ^ Mark Twain, "Following the Equator: A journey around the world"
  20. ^ "Kumbh Mela – Expert Bulletin". Expertbulletin.com. http://expertbulletin.com/most-significant-days-during-the-kumbh-festival/.
  21. ^ Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda Chapter 36 Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, wikisource.
  22. ^ 39 killed in Kumbh Mela stampede The Hindu, Aug 28, 2003
  23. ^ Holy man's gift blamed for 39 dead in stampede The Guardian, August 28, 2003.
  24. ^ http://www.amritfilm.net
  25. ^ Yardley, Jim; Kumar,Hari (2010-04-14). "Taking a Sacred Plunge, One Wave of Humanity at a Time". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/world/asia/15india.html. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  26. ^ a b Millions dip in Ganges at world's biggest festival, Agence France-Presse, 2010-04-13
  27. ^ Foreigners join huge crowds at India’s holy river festival, The Gazette (Montreal), 2010-04-14
  28. ^ "More trains during Kumbh Mela". The Times of India. 2010-04-11. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/More-trains-during-Kumbh-Mela/articleshow/5783377.cms. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  29. ^ Five die in stampede at Hindu bathing festival, BBC, 2010-04-14
  30. ^ ISRO taking satellite pictures of Mahakumbh mela, Press Trust of India, 2010-04-13
  31. ^ Allahabad Maha Kumbh 2013 Bathing Dates
  32. ^ Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth at the Internet Movie Database
  33. ^ Short Cut to Nirvana at the Internet Movie Database
  34. ^ Mela films
  35. ^ Kumbh Mela: Songs of the River at the Internet Movie Database
  36. ^ Invocation, Kumbha Mela at the Internet Movie Database
  37. ^ http://melafilms.com
  38. ^ http://amritfilm.net, Amrit Nectar of Immortality Website

External links