India Kumbh Mela

shahi snan, royal kumbh snan (bath)
Kumbh Mela Gathering Ready for Shahi Snan (Royal Holy Bath)

About Kumbh Mela – 

In Hindi, “Kumbh” means pitcher and “Mela”; means fair or festival. Hence, Kumbh Mela means festival of the pitcher relating to the pot filled with drink of immortality. This religious festival and mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith is celebrated four times over the course of 12 years. In todays context the overall ambience of Kumbh Mela is amazing you will not find anything boring and something or will amaze you. 

It’s a big fair and as happen in all fairs you have busy street, food option, Sadhus chanting prayers and many other stuff like ferry wheels, shops etc. 

kumbh mela how it looks
Indian Kumbh Mela is like amazing time with friends and family as well

The site of the observance of this festival rotates among four pilgrimage places set on four sacred rivers:

Places of Kumbh Mela 

  • At Haridwar (in state of Uttrakhand, Northern India) on the Ganges river
  • At Ujjain (in state of Madhya Pradesh, Central India) on the Shipra river
  • At Nashik (in state of Maharastra, Western India) on the Godavari river and
  • At Prayag (modern day Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three rivers viz. the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati.
kumbh in hindi known as pitcher
Kumbh – Pitcher or Pot

Theoretically, the festival should be celebrated every three years in a different place. However, the dates for Kumbh Mela is determined as per Hindu calendar and basis the principles of astrology, according to a combination of zodiac positions of the Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon.

At Nashik and Ujjain, the Mela may be held while a planet is in Leo. At Haridwar and Allahabad, an Ardh (Half) Kumbh Mela is held every sixth year and a Maha (Great) Kumbh Mela occurs after 144 years. The occurrences of Kumbh Mela are as follows:

Kumbh Mela – Types and Occurrences  

  1. The Kumbh Mela (Purna Kumbh), occurs every 12 years at a given site
  2. Ardh (Half) Kumbh Mela occurs between the two Purna Kumbh Mela at Allahabad and Haridwar
  3. The Maha (Great) Kumbh occurs after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas i.e. every 144 years
  4. The Kumbh Mela at Allahabad is celebrated after approximately 3 years of Kumbh Mela at Haridwar. There is a difference of around 3 years between the Kumbh festivals at Allahabad and Nashik. Kumbh at Nashik and Ujjain are celebrated in the same year or one year apart. For Next Kumbh Mela Schedule read here

Also Read Mythological Origin and Significance.

Artist at Kumbh dressed in Traditional Attire of Gods and Devil 
Naga Sadu – In Pursuit of finding God at Camp 

Rituals at Kumbh Mela

Lauded as the largest gathering of pilgrims all over the world, the Kumbh Mela has been celebrated with utmost devotion. Millions of pilgrims from all over the world attend this mega event. The important rituals conducted during the Kumbh Mela include taking a dip in holy waters of the river, religious discussions, mass-feeding the poor and devotional singing. There are lively debates on religious doctrines as well. One can spot several yogis and sadhus involved in the engagement of penance. Few of these yogis, come out of their caves in the majestic Himalayan mountains, only during the time of Maha Kumbh Mela.

Priest performing Pooja – Prayers at Ganga in Kumbh

During Kumbh Mela, the main ritual is sacred dip in the holy river. Hindus believe that by taking a bath in the sacred waters on auspicious days will absolve them of  their past sins, thus ending the cycle of death and rebirth.

Holy Dip – Sadhu Offering 

The journey towards taking the holy dip in the sacred water is a spectacular sight. One can witness different groups of sadhus lining up and moving in procession towards the river. The Naga sadhus usually lead, while each such group tries to outdo the others with more grandeur and fanfare. Few Sadhus are noted by their extravagant arrival, often on decorated chariots. The moment is magical, and everyone is absorbed in it. After bathing, the pilgrims wear fresh clothes and proceed to worship by the river bank. They then walk around listening to discourses from the various sadhus.

Sadhu and Foreign tourist visitor at Camp

In a nutshell, entire ambience of Kumbh Mela is wrapped with spiritual sanctity and mysticism.