Ever gone on a date with "you"? Ever fallen in love with "you"? You will be stunned to know yourselves! Maha Kumbh Mela gives you a chance. It finds a prestigious place in the UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Mela is a journey of faith. Hindus (and people of other religions too) swarm on the banks of a holy river at a particular time of the year to take a "holy dip" and wash off their sins.
Do you know?
- The Kumbh Mela begins at Haridwar.
- After Haridwar, Kumbh Festival happens at Prayag, Nasik, and Ujjain.
- Kumbh celebration at Prayag happens after three years of Kumbh Festival at Haridwar.
- There is a gap of three years between the Kumbh Melas at Prayag and Nasik.
- The Kumbh Mela at Nasik and Ujjain happens around the same time.
- Once in a while, Kumbh Festival at Nasik happens before Ujjain.
- The Maha Kumbh happens after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas.
- Maha Kumbh Mela, the grander version of Kumbh Mela, occurs every 144 years. Devotees and sages throng in millions at Prayag, which is the merging point of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati rivers.
- At Allahabad and Haridwar, Ardh Kumbh Melas happen every six years.
- On the other hand, Poorna Kumbh Mela happens at Allahabad every 12 years.
The Legend goes...
According to the legend of Sea Churning (Samudra Manthan), alignment of stars is specifically identified with the Kumbh celebration. Lord Indra's son Jayant had snatched the "amrit kalash" (pot of nectar) from the Gods and ran away. He ran for 12 divine days. One divine day (or day of 'devtas') is equivalent to one year of humans. So, he ran for 12 years and, within this duration, the places where he placed down the pot of nectar were Nasik, Ujjain, Prayag, and Haridwar. At that time, in these places, the planets, the sun, and the moon were in a unique astrological alignment.
This is the reason that when the alignment of stars is holy in the 12th year Kumbh Mela takes place in culturally significant places. Kumbh celebration and Ganga are strongly linked to each other. Ganga flows in Prayag as well. However, Godavari of Nasik is called Ganga. People call it 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 venerates there through Ganga.
Exploring the essence of Maha Kumbh Mela
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.
Do you know five elements make up the human body? The elements are fire, wind, water, earth, and sky. 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 each consecrated action in Hindu culture, and this pitcher is an image of Kumbh.
Humans, ultimately, merge with the universe. That can happen only if they rise above the worldly pleasures and integrate with the simmering energy of the world. A life without spiritual cleansing is worthless. Failing to recognize the true meaning of existence will fill our pitcher with sins. At some point of time, you must release the sins and do penance.
Someone taking a holy dip in Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Tryambakeshwar-Nashik would not mean that their sins will wash away and they can sin more! 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' we liberate our life...and as the legend goes and Hindus believe that the deities and the sages will bless us.
Vatsla Singh is a content curator and writer. She takes active interest in the psychology of the human mind. Thus writing about spirituality and personal growth comes to her easily. She also tussled with borderline bi-polar disorder, and consequently understood the importance of spirituality in life for better well-being. After thorough research and first-hand experience, she now truly understands the effect of yoga on mental health. Aside, you can catch her with her cats whilst she isn't typing away on her laptop.