The Maha Kumbh at Allahabad
Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh, is considered one of the holiest of the cities of India since ancient times. In ancient times it was known as Prayag. Allahabad is considered very holy as it is situated at the confluence of India’s holiest rivers the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati. The confluence of these holiest of the rivers at Allahabad is called the Sangam and a dip at the Sangam, especially during Kumbh is believed to bring moksha. Sangam confluence is held very sacred by Hindus throughout the world.
What is the Significance of the Kumbh
The Kumbh Mela is celebrated every three years on a rotational basis at four major pilgrimage places in a span of 12 years. These holy pilgrimage sites are Haridwar on the river Ganges in Uttarakhand, Ujjain on the Shipra river in Madhya Pradesh, Nashik on the Godavari river in Maharashtra, and Prayagraj (Allahabad) at the confluence of three rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati in the Uttar Pradesh.
It is at Allahabad that the world’s largest congregation of devotees gather for the Kumbh Mela. The Maha Kumbh Mela is held every 12th year and Ardh Kumbh Mela is held every 6th year. The Maha Kumbh held once in 12 years is witness to the largest human gathering in history. It is once in a lifetime experience when you see millions of pilgrims from India and abroad, as well as tourists from all over the world, who come here during the holy celebrations.
The Ritual Bath in Sangam cleanses one of all sins
During this festival, people take the ritual bath in the sacred water, saturated with flower & incense fragrance amidst chanting of Vedic hymns and mantras. It is believed that a holy dip liberates one from all sufferings and miseries of Life and cleanses one of all sins.
The sadhus from Various Akharas
This festival would be incomplete without the presence of a large congregation of Sadhus and ascetics from different orders called Akhadas. The most interesting is the Naga Sadhus, who are known as the preserver of faith. Each order or the sect of sadhus initiates the ritual bath and leaves after taking the holy dip. Then it is the turn of the sadhus of the other sect and so on. Pilgrims can be seen taking blessings from these sadhus. Over the centuries kings, famous people, and saints have visited Allahabad, including the great Shankaracharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and observed the Kumbh Mela.
Maha Kumbh of 2013 with Friends
I had the opportunity of attending the Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahaba in the year 2013. This Maha Kumbh Mela which was held at Allhabad in 2013 was of great significance as it comes around only once every 144 years. This maha kumbh lasted 55 days attended by millions of people and pilgrims. The largest temporary gathering of people in the world could be seen at that time. An entire temporary city covering an area larger than Athens was set up to accommodate the people. Not only pilgrims but tourists from all across the world was here. What an incredible experience. We spent three days at this holy congregation.