Sacred Kumbha Mela
‘Kumbha Mela', is a river side religious fair of the Hindus. It is the most sacred of all Hindu religious activities and brings about the largest of all human congregations anywhere in the world. On such occasions millions of pilgrims from every nook and corner of the land, speaking different languages, wearing different sectarian marks, donning different types of dresses and observing various manners and customs meet together for darshan of holy saints, satsang, prayer, worship and ritual bath in the sacred rivers. There is nothing more impressive, picturesque and pregnant with spiritual significance in India than the Kumbha mela.
In the Kumbha mela, religion, trade and amusement go hand in hand. The entire area is dotted with tiny shrines, make shift temples, mandapams and ashrams of innumerable saints. Mornings and evenings are filled with Kirtans/Bhajans (devotional singing), story telling, chanting vedic hymns, jingling bells, blowing conches and millions of devoted pilgrims taking a dip in the holy river. The most distinctive and attractive feature of the mela is the ceremonial bathing of the Nagas (naked Sadhus) who are given priority in the bath.
Meaning of Kumbha
The word ‘Kumbha' means a pot. The name originates from a story in the puranas (ancient spiritual literature). The story is about an ‘Amrit Kumbha' that is a pot filled with nectar that arose from the churning of the ocean by a joint effort of the Gods and the demons. As the pot with the nectar arose a fight began between the Gods and the demons to possess the nectar because it granted immortality to the one who drank it. To prevent the nectar from falling in the hands of the demons Lord Vishnu took a beautiful female form and by her charm and grace enticed them and handed over the pot to the Gods. The story is a long one and allegorically explains the phenomenon of the awakening of the Kundalini energy, its process and benefits. The amrit (nectar) is the awakened Kundalini energy that grants immortality and permanent bliss. Since the purpose of this religious gathering is the spiritual up liftment of the masses the word Kumbha from the above story has been used to name the sacred ocassion. ‘Mela' means a fair. So Kumbha mela means a religious fair.
Location and Time
The Kumbha mela is held every three years by rotation at four holy places. The names of these places along with the rivers on which they are situated and the timings are given below:
|- River Ganga |
- Confluence of rivers Ganga,
Yamuna and Saraswati
- River Shipra
- River Godavari
|- Mid Feb. to mid April |
Purna and Ardha melas
Purna (full) kumbha melas gets repeated in each of the above places in a cycle of appx. 12 years. Additionally in between the purna melas an ardha (half) kumbha mela is held at