Maha Kumbh Mela
Probably the most important religious congregation of the Hindus, the Kumbh Mela is a spectacle to behold! After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, famous American author Mark Twain had this to say:
“It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvellous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”
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Legend has it that in the mythological times, a war waged between demons and demigods for the possession of elixir of eternal life. This war raged on for a whole twelve days and twelve nights during which, a few drops of this elixir fell on four places that are today known as Haridwar, Ujjain, Allahabad and Nasik. Today, millions of deities from all walks of life gather at these religious destinations with a desire to attain moksha or freedom from the vicious circle of life and death.
Kumbh Mela 2016
This year’s Kumbh Mela is being celebrated in Ujjain, an ancient city located in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
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Here are a few more interesting facts about the Kumbh Mela:
- It is the world’s biggest religious fair, and is billed as the world’s biggest gathering of humanity.
- The Maha Kumbh Mela festival, which is held every 12 years, attracts around 80 to 100 million pilgrims from around the world.
- The Kumbh Mela is held every three years on rotational basis in the holy cities of Allahabad, Nashik, Haridwar, and Ujjain.
- The fair has been organised since time immemorial. It’s first ever evidence comes from the accounts of Hiuen Tsang or Xuanzang, a Chinese traveller who visited India during the reign of King Harshavardhana, in 629 – 645 A.D.
- Among the many attendees at Kumbh Mela are various sadhus (hermits); including Nagas, who do not wear any clothes; Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities; Parivrajakas, who have taken a vow of silence; Shirshasins, who stand 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads, and Kalpvasis, who bathe thrice a day.
- Believers say that one day and one night in paradise make up one human year. And because the epic battle between the demons and demigods went on for twelve days and twelve nights, it equals to twelve years on Earth.
- All pilgrims who wish to be liberated from the unending cycle of reincarnation, which is also known as moksha in Hindu religion, can attend the Kumbh Mela.
- A huge number of Hindu monks and deities take a dip at Sangam, the intersection of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, in India’s Allahabad city.
- Various documentaries have been spectators to this colossal phenomenon, the most notable among them being Nick Day’s ‘Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela’, which released in 2004.
- Special facilities are provided for devotees, including toilets, temporary hospitals, doctors on call, and thousands of police personnel to manage the crowd and security.
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