Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage
in which Hindus gather at the meeting place of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and
mythical Sarasvati, at Prayag where bathing for purification from sin is
considered especially auspicious. The festival is billed as the "biggest
gathering on Earth"; in 2001 more than 40 million gathered on the busiest of
its 55 days.
Duration: Kumbh Mela is organized every
three years on a rotation basis of Allahabad, Nashik or Nasik, Haridwar and
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. 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 rituals: 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.
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.
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.
( Courtesy: Wikkipedia)