Maha Kumbh is held after every twelve years, which is once in life time event, if somehow you have missed Maha Kumbh, and then other option of similar significance is Ardh Kumbh which held after every 6 years. It is believed that by bathing in the Ganges during Kumbh, one is freed from one’s past sins (karma), and thus becomes eligible for liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river in whichever town it is being held. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, 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 per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter.
According to astrological calculations, the Kumbha Mela is held every twelve years and begins on Makar Sankranti, the day when the sun and moon enter Capricorn and Jupiter enters Aries. The astrological configuration on Makar Sankranti is called “Kumbhasnanayoga” and is considered to be especially auspicious, as it is said that the passage from Earth to the higher planets is open at that time, thus allowing the soul to easily attain the celestial world. Kumbh is held at four places.
Kumbh Mela at Prayag —
Prayag (near the city of Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh)- at the confluence of three rivers Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna and Saraswati.When Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and Sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magha (January-February).
Kumbh Mela at Haridwar—
Haridwar (in the state of Uttarakhand)- where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas
when Jupiter is in Aquarius and Sun is in Aries during the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April).
Kumbh Mela at Ujjain—
Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of Ksipra river, and When the Jupiter is in Leo and Sun is in Aries, or when all three are in Libra during the Hindu month of Vaisakha (April-May).
Kumbh Mela at Nasik —
Nasik (in Maharashtra),On the banks of Godavari River, and when the Sun and Jupiter are in Leo during the Hindu month of Bhadraprada (August-September).
Kumbh’s history originates from the beginning of the Creation. All devtas were under the influence of a curse that made them weak and coward, Brahma, (the creator God) advised them to churn the ocean for Amrit (Nectar), intake of which will make them immortal, and devtas sought the help of demons for the purpose. Gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together in obtaining amrita (the nectar of immortality) from the Milky Ocean, and to share this equally. The Mandara Mountain was used as a churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the rope for churning. With the demigods at Vasuki’s tail and the demons at his head, they churned the ocean for 1,000 years. Eventually, Dhanwantari, the divine healer, appeared with the “Kumbh” containing nectar in his palms, when the Kumbha (pot) containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away with the pot and were chased by the gods. By their joint churning Amrit was one of the resultants, found in the last. A battle ensured. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the possession of this pot of amrita. It is said that during the battle, drops of amrita fell on to four places : Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Kumbha mela is observed at these four locations where the nectar fell.
In the year 2013, Maha Kumbh is to be held at Prayag (Allahabad). This year Makar Sankranti falls on 14th January 2013 and the Maha Kumbh Mela shall begin with all the pomp and glory for which it is famous.
The combined sanctity of the three holy rivers, coupled with the spiritual powers obtained from the pot of nectar of immortality has earned Prayag (Allahabad) as tirtharaja (the king of holy places). The confluence of India’s three most sacred rivers at Allahabad, Besides the Ganges, there are also two other sacred rivers located at Allahabad, the Yamuna and the Saraswati. Ganges & Yamuna has its earthly origin in the Himalayas. Whereas Saraswati, is a mystical river which has no physical form. It’s believed that the Saraswati exists only on the spiritual plane and is not visible to the human eye.
After 12 long years the grand event is again at the doorstep for people to grab the opportunity to witness the magnificent spectacle at Allahabad, the place of confluence of the three holy rivers, in January, 2013. The details about the most auspicious days during the festival on which devotees will take the holy dip in the waters of Ganges, Yamuna and the lost Saraswati are enlisted below:
Maha Kumbh Mela 2013 Bathing (Shahi Snan) Dates and Occasion
|14th January 2013||Sunday||Makar Sankarnti|
|27th January 2013||Sunday||Paush Purnima|
|6th February 2013||Wednesday||Ekadashi Snan|
|10th February 2013||Sunday||Mauni Amavasya Snan|
|15th February 2013||Friday||Basant Panchami Snan|
|17th February 2013||Sunday||Rath Saptami Snan|
|18th February 2013||Monday||Bhisma Ashtami Snan|
|25th February 2013||Monday||Maghi Purnima Snan|
These are the dates when millions will come to take a holy dip at confluence of holy rivers at Allahabad.
The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. But Today, The Ganges was ranked among the five most polluted rivers of the world in 2007, with fecal coli for levels in the river near Varanasi more than one hundred times the official Indian government limits. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.
The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to corruption and lack of technical expertise, lack of good environmental planning, Indian traditions and beliefs, and lack of support from religious authorities. The problems have been allowed to escalate to the dangerously high proportions we have today because of that fact that Hindus simply do not want to accept that their ‘mother Ganga’, nectar of God, bringer of hope and purifier of souls is or can be responsible for bringing them illness and misery. Instead claims of record pollution fall on deaf ears.
Respect “mother ganga”.