Maha Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela is named in the UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a journey of confidence in which Hindus assemble to bathe in a holy river. Let's know more about the cultural heritage which attracts followers and tourists from all over the world.
The Calendar of Kumbh and Maha Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela begins at Haridwar. It is said that after Haridwar Kumbh Festival is commended at Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain. Kumbh celebration at Prayag is held after three years of Kumbh Festival at Haridwar. There is a gap of 3 years between the Kumbh Melas at Prayag and Nasik. The Kumbh Mela at Nasik and Ujjain is commended around the same time. Once in a while, Kumbh Festival at Nasik is held before Ujjain. The Maha Kumbh happens after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas. Maha Kumbh Mela, the grander version of Kumbh Mela, occurs every 144 years. A large gathering of devotees and sages gather at Prayag which is the merging point of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati river. At Allahabad and Haridwar, Ardh Kumbhs Melas are organized every six years. On the other hand, Poorna Kumbh Mela is held at Allahabad every twelve years.
Mythological Narrative of Great Maha Kumbh Mela
It is clarified in the narrative of Sea Churning (Samudra Manthan) that the alignment of stars is specifically identified with the Kumbh celebration. Jayant took 12 days to deliver the nectar 'Kalash' to the paradise. One day of 'Devdas' was equivalent to one year of the humans. It is the reason that when the alignment of stars is holy, twelfth year Kumbh is held in culturally significant places. The significance of the reason is clear with the fact that Kumbh celebration and Ganga are strongly linked to each other. Ganga flows in Prayag as well. However, Godavari of Nasik is likewise called Ganga. It is known by the name of Gomti Ganga. Shipra is perceived by north branch Ganga of Kashi. From that place, Shipra becomes the east branch; the same place where it was once amassed with Ganga. The phallus named Gangeshwar is venerated there by Ganga.
The Essence of Maha Kumbh Mela and Kumbh
Sant Kabir says, “Kumbh is the representation of everyone in society. It represents spiritual arousing and is an unceasing symbol of humankind. It is the surge of streams, woodlands and the old knowledge of the sages. Not only that; it represents the flow of life which envelopes the universe. Also, it is the image of the symbiosis of nature and humanity. Kumbh is the spring of all vitality.
Kumbh influences humanity to understand this world and beyond, sins and endowments, insight and obliviousness, obscurity and light. Heavenly streams are the symbol of humankind. Waterways are markers of the flow of life in the human body itself. In the human body that is an exemplification of home, nothing is conceivable without the five components. The components – fire, wind, water, earth, and sky – symbolize the human body. The universe resides in the life of every living being. Each speck of life belongs to the never-ending space, and in turn, the universe belongs to us.
Emptying 'Kumbh' of Your Sins
Kumbh means a pitcher. However, its real meaning is something unique. Indeed, even as an image of the pitcher, Kumbh is synonymous with 'karma' in our day to day life. A pitcher (or Kalash) is a basic piece of every single consecrated action in Hindu culture, and this pitcher is an image of Kumbh.
The humans are supposed to merge with the universe. That can only happen if they rise above the worldly pleasures and integrate with the simmering energy of the world. A life without spiritual cleansing is a worthless life. Failing to recognize the true meaning of existence will fill our pitcher with sins. At some point in time, the sins have to be released, and penance must be done.
Someone taking a holy dip in Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Tryambakeshwar-Nashik would not mean that their sins will wash away. The cleansing of the soul is what 'Kumbh ka Mela' signifies. Symbolically, one has to become a better and compassionate person without forming an attachment to the worldly pleasures. When we exhaust our 'Kumbh', our life will be liberated, and the Deities and Sages will bless us.