One of the greatest Hindu religious occasions, the Kumbh Mela is held after every four years and is of great spiritual significance for the Hindus in India.
The Kumbh Mela isn’t a single event that’s organised at regular intervals. while the Kumbh Mela is normally held once every four years, the Purna Kumbh Mela falls once every 12 years and is of greater importance than the Kumbh Mela. As per ancient Hindu mythology, some planets that are believed to affect the destiny of the human race align every 12 years and the Purna Kumbh Mela is control exactly during the time of this powerful planetary alignment. The Purna Kumbha is organised by turns at Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh, Prayag( near Allahabad) in state, Nasik in Maharastra and Ujjaini in Madhya Pradesh. the site for every Purna Kumbh is decided by the ascetics who jointly study the planetary positions and agree upon the location of observance. The Ardh Kumbha Mela(Half Kumbha Mela) is held once every six years or halfway between 2 Purna kumbh Melas; hence the name.
But the most necessary Kumbh Mela is the Maha Kumbh Mela(Great Kumbh Mela), that periodically falls every 144 years or once 12 Purna Kumbh Melas, and is control at Allahabad. A rarest of rare occassion, the Maha Kumbh Mela is looked upon by most Hindus as a once in a very period of time occassion that one will attend solely with nice fortune.
The Maha Kumbh Mela (Great Kumbh Mela) is organised at Prayag that is located close to Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. during this time, millions of devotees converge here to take a ceremonial dip in the Triveni Sangam – the confluence of the 3 nice rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati meet. it’s accepted to be the spot where four drops of the sacred nectar had fallen during the battle between the Devas (demigods) and Asuras(demons) over the Amrit-Kumbh(pot of nectar). The place is attended by millions of people who perform rituals here and also a take a ritual bath. the bathing is done in the open with complete submersion of the body under water and performing an oblation to the sun.
Religious Hindus attach great importance to this bathing ceremony and it forms the most important ritual of the Maha Kumbh Mela as also of the other Kumbh Melas. according to a popular legend, Lord Brahma (the God of Creation in Hindu Mythology) once proclaimed that taking a dip in the holy river Ganga can liberate mankind from its sins. The Hindus believe that bathing in the sacred waters at the Kumbh Mela can purge them and their ancestors back to the eighty-eighth generation off all evil and sin. this would make them suitable to attain moksha (salvation) from the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
The inner significance of this ritual bath lies in understanding the true implication of the Samudra-Manthan episode. The “amrit” or nectar implies the divine knowledge and strength that lies within each of us. The churning of the ocean symbolizes that each of us must judiciously churn our own inner self to gain this knowledge.
The other important activities associated to the Maha Kumbh Mela include singing of bhajans (devotional songs), discussions on religious matters, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and gatherings where religious doctrines are debated and determined.
The recent Maha Kumbh Mela was held in 2001 at Prayag, the holiest of the four spots where the sacred drops of amrit are said to have fallen. This was the first Maha Kumbh of the 21st century and conjointly of this millennium. The grand religious congregation was attended by around 60 million people, consisting of men, women and children, thousands of sadhus (monks) and also more than 65,000 foreigners from abroad (curious to get a glimpse of this grand affair). The astounding number of the total people gathered makes the Maha Kumbh Mela 2001 the largest gathering anywhere in the history of the world till date.