The Kumbh Mela festival 2019 took place in Prayagraj (once called Allahabad, the Moghul-era name). The Kumbh Mela is the only event in the world where no invitation or permission is required and is allowed to all faiths, yet millions of pilgrims and visitors gather to celebrate the holy event. Kumbh Mela has its origin from a legend, describing a battle between gods and demons over the possession of the nectar of eternal life.
Kumbh means “POT” and Mela means “FAIR”. According to Astrologers the Kumbh Fair takes place based on astrological calculations. It is celebrated over 4 places in India:
Haridwar on Ganges River – Ujjain on Shipra River – Nashik on Godavari River and Prayagraj on the Sangam of 3 holy rivers Ganges/Yamuna/Sarasvati
The pilgrimage is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years, this because the battle between gods and demons went on for 12 days, and twelve days for the gods are equivalent to 12 years for humans. Each 12 years cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, attended by millions of people, making it the largest faith pilgrimage in the world. It is also considered as the most significant among all Kumbh fairs held in the other locations as it is source of light and knowledge.
Useless to say that the bathing ritual is the most significant and awe inspiring among all rituals at Kumbh. Devotees believe that this holy bath cleanses them of all their sins and gain the mystical powers of the Amrit (the nectar of immortality).
One of the most exciting sights of the festival is the “shahi” or royal procession of the Hindu holy men known as “sadhus”. Bathing in the sacred waters of the Sangam, where the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers meet, is believed to achieve “moksha” or salvation. There are normally 3 to 4 days deemed to be particularly auspicious. . It is believed that in those particular days the water turns into “amrita”, the nectar of immortality.
The Prayagraj Kumbh Mela attracts visitors from across the world, most of them spend the whole month in a quest for salvation through Yoga and prayers.
Another prominent part of the festival is the act of donations to the poor and helpless, to the saints and to cows, donations which can vary from basic food or clothing to more precious things.
For its importance and spiritual values, Kumbh Mela pilgrimage has been inscribed on 2017 Unesco “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list.
……………and when dark falls, a mesmerizing scene will appear in front of your eyes: hundred of floating lighted lamps on the flowing waters, like twinkling stars, reflecting in the river. In fact devotees make a “vessel” from leaves on which a lamp made of wheat flour filled with oil and cotton strand is lighted and floated on water as an offering of gratitude towards the holy river.
Kumbh Mela pilgrimage can be summarized in these three sayings:
- From untruth lead us to Truth
- From darkness lead us to Light
- From death lead us to Immortality