Food, Festivals and Events / Photography : Nature and beyond

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad : The Greatest and Largest gathering of Humans at one place on the Plant Earth

Mahakumbha Mela 2013 Allahabad

The Greatest and Largest gathering of Humans at one place on the Planet Earth

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”

  • The major event of the Kumbh is ritual bathing on some specific dates at the banks of the  Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati) in Prayag (Allahabad).
  • Kumbh Mela 2013 Allahabad in Numbers
    • Expected No. of Visitors     : ~100 million
    • Duration of Kumbh                : 55 Days Jan-Feb 2013 (selected auspicious days for bathing)
    • Mela Area                                   : 20 sq km (4,932 acres)
    • Drinking water                         : 80 million litres
    • Temporary washrooms        : 35,000
    • Doctors onsite                          : 243
    • Police/Security personnel  : 30,000
    • Costing the authorities                    : 12bn rupees ($210m; £130m)
    • Expected  businesses generation: 120bn rupees ($2.1bn; £1.3bn)
Holy Dip Maha Kumbh 2013

Maha Kumbh 2013 : Allahabad

Kumbh Snan 14th Jan 2013 Allahabad

Maha Kumbh Mela 2013 Allahabad

A rush for the holy dip

Maha Kumbh 2013 : Allahabad

Significance of Kumbha Snan at Allahabad

  • A dip in the water of holy rivers, at these holy places on specific days (Sangam-Allahabad right now as well as Haridwar, Nasik & Ujjain at other times) is considered to be one of the most auspicious thing for a Hindu. Its like Hajj – a visit to Makka/ Madina by muslim or a pilgrimage to Rome/Jerusalam by Christians/Jews on a religiously important day.
    • Cleanse the body from outside and soul from inside of all the sins committed as a human being
      • To save one’s soul from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth
      • Attain ‘Moksha’ – Attain the ultimate peace/bliss in afterlife
Auspicious Bathing Dates 
2013 Maha Kumbh , Allahabad, India
27th Jan  2013 Paush Purnima
06th Feb 2013 Ekadashi Snan
10th Feb 2013 Mauni Amavasya Snan
15th Feb 2013 Basant Panchami Snan
17th Feb 2013 Rath Saptami Snan
18th Feb 2013 Bhisma Ekadashi Snan
25th Feb 2013 Maghi Purnima Snan
  • Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass kitchen service, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. 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.

A makeshift city to accommodate more than three times its population during kumbg at Allahabad

  • This Kumbh is considered to be the most significant of all as it marks the direction of wisdom or light. This is the place where the sun, symbolizing wisdom, rises.
  • Creation of the universe is supposed to have originated here and it is supposed to be the center of the earth. Prajapati Brahma, the God of Creation, is said to have created the Universe after conducting the Ashwamedh Yagna at the Dashashwamedh Ghat here. The Dashashwamedh Ghat and the Brahmeshwar Temple still exist here as if as symbols of that holy yagna, and that is another reason for the special significance of the Prayag Kumbh. In fact Prayag and Kumbh are synonymous to each other.
  • Kumbha (Sanskrit: कुम्भ) means a full vase/pot/ jar/pitcher. In Sacred Hindu history , its also used as a symbol of the womb which represents fertility, life, generative power of human beings and sustenance; and is generally associated with the female form of God. In Sacred Hindu history several references are found of human beings born from a Kumbha.  In all Hindu religious ceremonies and rituals, Kumbhas  filled with water and leaves and decorated with intricate motifs, sometimes with ornaments, play an important role till date.
  • In Indian Astrology (Jyotisa), Kumbha also stands for the zodiac sign Aquarius, and is also associated with the Kumbha Mela, which happens when planet Brihaspati moves into the sign. Kumbh Mela (/ˌkʊm ˈmeɪlə/ or /ˌkʊm məˈlɑː/; Devanagari: कुम्भ मेला) is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Sangam, Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh, India)  meeting place, of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati, at Prayag where bathing for purification from sin is considered especially auspicious.

Kumbh Mela (The Kumbha Fair

  • Kumbh Mela or the Kumbha Festival Held every 4th years, the Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest events for the Indian Hindu community. Its been in practice since time immemorial, the origin of this can can be traced back to the ancient episode of ‘Sagar Manthan‘ in Sacred Hindu history (churning of the oceans to extract the bounties of the nature). As this story goes Indra (the king of Heaven) and other demigods had lost their strength by the curse of an angry holy man (Durvasa Muni), and to regain it, they approach Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva who directed them the Supreme Personalty of Godhead Lord Visnu 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. However, when the Kumbha (the pot carrying elixir) 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 (disguised as Mohini – a beautiful woman) flew away with the Kumbha of elixir spilling drops of amrita at four places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik – all these four places have extreme reverence and importance for Hindus. 
  • Kumbh Mela derives its name from Kumbha – the immortal Pot of Nectar described in ancient Vedic scriptures (Puranas). Mela means fair or festival, congregation of people to celebrate a special occasional. In India, traditionally, the Melas, fairs, festivals are in line with the nature, to celebrate the change of season, specially the arrival of harvesting season.    Kumbh Mela literally means festival of the pot.
  • The famous Chinese traveler to ancient India, Hiuen-Tsang was probably the first person to mention Kumbh Mela in his diary. Even though the origin of the Kumbha mela is long lost, today it has become a spectacle of faith which attracts millions of people from not only all corners of India but across the world – and not just Hindus but the curious visitors from across the world come to soak in the Indian spirituality on this special occasion.
A Foreigner soaking in the Indian spritualism at Allahabad during kumbh

Maha Kumbha 2013, Allahabad

  • In the 8th century, the great Indian saint Shankara popularized the Kumbh Mela among the common people. With each passing year the fair began to be attended by more and more people. By 1977, the number of pilgrims attending Kumbh Mela had grown to a record 15 million! By 1989, the attendance was approximately 29 million!! Today, more than 60 million people is said to attend the Maha Kumbh Mela, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

Kumbha Mela 2013

Hitech Sadhu at Kumbha 2013

Hi Tech Sadhu at Kumbha 2013

KumbhMela 2013

Kumbh Mela Allahabad 2013

Kriya Yog Akhara

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

A Sadhu At Sangam Kumbh 2013

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

Maha Kumbh 2013 Elephant Parade

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

Rush for the holy dip

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

Alakh sadhus at Sangam in Allahabad to participate in the Maha Kumbh Mela 2013. Photo by Brijesh Jaiswal

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

Kumbh 2013

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

kumbh 2013 Allahabad

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

Kumbh 14th Jan 2013

Maha Kumbha Snan on Makar Sankranti day 14th January 2013, Allahabad

Kumbh Dip 2013

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

MahaKumbhMela Allahabad - 1st Day Snan 14th Jan 2013

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

MahaKumbhMela Allahabad 2013

Maha Kumbha Mela 2013, Allahabad

MahaKumbhaMela 2013 Swami Ramdev

Baba Ramdev joining the millions for Kumbh Snan on Makar Sankranti Day

What it means for 1.2 billion Indian 

  • Kumbh is the confluence of all our cultures.
  • It is the symbol of spiritual awakening.
  • It is the eternal flow of humanity.
  • It is the surge of rivers, forests and the ancient wisdom of the sages.
  • It is the flow of life itself.
  • It is the symbol of the confluence of nature and humanity.
  • Kumbh is the source of all energy.
  • Kumbh makes humankind realize this world and the other, sins and blessings, wisdom and ignorance, darkness and light.
  • Holy rivers are the symbols of the lyrical flow of humanity. Rivers are indicators of the flow of water of life in the human body itself.
  • In the human body that is an embodiment of home, nothing is possible without the five elements. The elements – fire, wind, water, earth and sky – symbolize the human body.
  • The Himalaya is the abode of the soul of the gods. The Holy Ganga embarks upon its journey from there, encompassing the forests, the mountain sages and the culture of the villages.
  • The Yamuna is a co-traveler as it puts an end to all sins, and it is known variously as Tripathga, Shivpuri and other names. This is the Ganga that liberated the children of the Suryavanshi king Sagar. Its holy water is considered nectar itself.

Different Types of Kumbh Melas

  • Maha Kumbh Mela (The Grand Kumbha Fair) – occurring every 144 years – only in Allahabad
  • Purna Kumbh Mela (The Full Kumbha Fair) – after every 12 years – last one took place in January 2001 in Allahabad
  • Ardh Kumbh (The Half Kumbha Fair) – 6th year after Kumbh Mela.
  • Kumbh Mela (Kumbha Fair) – every 3rd years, rotating through Prayag, Nasik, Haridwar and Ujjain.
  • Magh Mela (TheMagh Fair -Magh is 11th month in the Hindu Calendar, its signifies the arrival of Harvesting season for winter crops) – Annual, held every year except years ofKumbh Mela andArdh Kumbh Mela Held inMagh (Jan-Feb); hence the name. Only in Allahabad. Following are the names of 12 months as per the of the Hindu Calendar and correlation with Gregorian calendar:
    • 1.Chaitra (30 / 31 Days) Begins March 22 / 21
    • 2.Vaisakha (31 Days) Begins April 21
    • 3.Jyaistha (31 Days) Begins May 22
    • 4.Asadha (31 Days) Begins June 22
    • 5.Shravana (31 Days) Begins July 23
    • 6.Bhadra (31 Days) Begins August 23
    • 7.Asvina (30 Days) Begins September 23
    • 8.Kartika (30 Days) Begins October 23
    • 9.Agrahayana (30 Days) Begins November 22
    • 10.Pausa (30 Days) Begins December 22
    • 11.Magha (30 Days) Begins January 21
    • 12.Phalguna (30 Days) Begins February 20

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