Blogger Unbiased Series – Kumbh Mela and Burning Man Festival – Vishal Trivedi again

Is India Kumbh Mela anyway connected with Burning Man festival? 

kumbh mela and burning men festival

Some people would say that Kumbh Mela is the Indian version of Burning Man. Well, we Indians would argue that Kumbh Mela is a much older event and the attendees are 1,400 times more than that of Burning Man, so actually Burning Man is the American version of Kumbh Mela.

1400 times more attendees at Kumbh Mela? 

The argument can be never be ending, with each of the event having its different identity. What is more important is that what is our take on both this event? They don’t sound or look similar, in fact, they are the complete opposite, yet, how are they related?

How it started and where’s the party?

Burning Man!

Its all started in the year 1986 at Baker Beach in San Francisco, when the artist named Larry Harvey and Jerry James built a 9-foot tall wooden sculpture of a man, and decided to burn it at a nearby beach as a bonfire for Summer Solstice. 

Burning Man 

It has since been held annually, spanning from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September (Labor Day). However, in 1990, the police stopped burning the Man at Baker Beach because the organizers did not have a permit.

Real ego burning  not a men  

So, they decided to take the sculpture to the desert to be burned. Since that time the festival has taken place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The 2019 event will run from 25th August to 2nd September.

Kumbh Mela India Origin 

Kumbh Mela, on the other hand, is a part of UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The writings of the famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang (602 – 664 A.D.) have mentioned about Kumbh Mela.

He visited India during the reign of King Harshvardhana.

kumbh mela pot

As per Hindu mythological belief, “Kumbh” which means a Pot/ Pitcher got its name from the immortal Pot of Nectar called “Amrit” which was fetched during the “Samudra Manthan” (churning of ocean) done by Demigods (Devtas) and Demons (Asuras). However, later they fought over it and during the chase for possession of the Amrit pot, a few drops fell at four places – Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik.

kumbh allahabad

These four places are since believed to have acquired mystical powers and hence the Kumbh Mela is organized here. The chase continued for 12 days of Gods which is equivalent to 12 years of human, so the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in 12 years, whereas the “Maha Kumbh Mela” is celebrated only once in 144 years. Previous Kumbh Mela was celebrated in 2013, and now the “Ardh Kumbh Mela” or the half Kumbh Mela will be celebrated at Allahabad, India, in 2019 from 15th January to 4th March.

Shiva “Shiv Shankar” connects the both – 

Burning Man, the wild 9-day arts event supports the creation of impactful, interactive artwork around the world. You can see a lot of artistic performances, installations, music, and dance at the Burning Man.

Unconventional forms of self-expression (like performance art using light or fire, body painting or the creation of “Mutant vehicles”) are integral to the Burning Man experience. There is an art theme every year, in 2018 the art theme was “I, ROBOT” with a focus on the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives.

Lord Shiv Shankar

Kumbh is a pitcher, which represents the human body or human life. It is made of clay and is extremely fragile. It should be baked in the fire of “yoga” and filled with nectar-like love and devotion. Then we can celebrate the Kumbh Mela in daily life.

kumbh mela and burning men festival

If you stay at the Kumbh for a mandala – a period of 48 days – and spend time in the water daily with the appropriate sadhana, you can transform your physical body, psychological framework, energy framework and above all, find enormous spiritual growth within you. You can see thousands of Sadhu’s performing unbelievable Yoga asanas at the Kumbh Mela.

Lord Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts, connects Burning Man (art) with Kumbh Mela (Yoga). The “Nataraj” form of Shiva, signifies dance as an art, depicting the deity in dancing pose is considered as the “Lord of Dance”. His dance and gestures also reflect yoga postures. Around 84 lakhs of asanas are said to have derived from his dance movements. As per the Yogic culture, Shiva is not known as a God, but as the first Guru or the Adi Guru. He is the Adi Yogi or the first Yogi.

Define your own fashion:

Shiva The Lord of Power and no-nonsense 
Shiva at its best

Be it the Burning Man or the Kumbh Mela, everyone is welcome without any discrimination. Most people think that Burning Man is a bunch of naked hippies doing the drug in the desert, and to a certain extent, they aren’t wrong.

kumbh mela and burning men festival

Similar is the case at Kumbh Mela, wherein you will find most of the locals wearing Indian attire in vibrant colors and you will also see thousands of naked saints (Naga Sadhu’s) around. There is no defined fashion, be what you are and wear what you want at both the places.

Fire and Water: What do we learn?

Burning Man represents Fire. All the artwork is burnt down at the end of the week. The flames are a reminder that everything is temporary and we should appreciate everyone around us, because someday they are likely to be gone. On the contrary, Kumbh Mela represents water. Every Kumbh Mela is organized on the banks of the river. Millions of people attend Kumbh Mela and bath or take a dip in the river just to cleanse their sins and attain “Mukti” (seek liberation).

kumbh allahabad

Both the events are a great learning for human life, wherein one allows us to appreciate everything around us and the other gives us an opportunity to let the bygones be bygones, to cleanse our sins and start our journey towards Moksha.