Mahakumbh is the biggest religious gathering in the world. Mahakumbh 2013 started on Makar Sankranti Jan 14 2013 and will go for two months concluding on MahaShivratri, 10 Mar 2013. Millions of pilgrims, ash-smeared ascetics, doe-eyed starlets and wide-eyed tourists flock to kumbh Mela . 10 crore people are expected to visit Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2013 including 10 lakh foreign tourists. Budget for MahaKumbh is 1200 crore of this 800 crore comes from planning commission. 12,000 crore is expected to flow into coffers of UP government.
What is amazing about the Mahakumbh is the size of gathering, the sheer scale and complex dynamics of the mela which has even intrigued Harvard who are working on a big multi-disciplinary project to study Kumbh various aspects. The effort, dubbed ‘Mapping India’s Kumbh Mela’, is underpinned by the desire to figure out just how tens of millions of Indians gather peacefully in one spot to celebrate this ancient rite of religious passage.(Ref:Timesof India: Mahakumbh Attracts Harvard Uni) . In this article we shall cover what is Kumbh Mela? Where and when it is held? What is Ardha, Purna Kumbh Mela. Mythological aspect of Kumbh, sheer scale of Kumbh.
Kumbh mela provides Hindus great opportunity to purify our soul by bathing in holy river and serving saints. The Mela takes place on a rotational basis in four of the most holy Hindu places in India :
- on the banks of the Godavari river in Nashik (Maharastra),
- the Shipra river in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh),
- the Ganges river in Haridwar (Uttarakhand),
- and convergence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati rivers in Allahabad/Prayag (Uttar Pradesh).
Kumbha Mela is held at one or more of the four places and is given different names(Ardha, Purna, Maha) based on how often it happens. The planetary positions of the Sun, the Moon and the Jupiter decide the place where Kumbh would be held. (Ref: About.com The Kumbh & Ardhkumbh)
- When the Sun sojourns in the constellation Aries and Jupiter in Aquarius, Kumbh is held at Haridwar.
- When the Sun passes through Capricorn and the Jupiter through Taurus, Kumbh is held at Prayag.
- Kumbh is held at Ujjain when the Sun and the Moon traverse through Aries
- When Jupiter is in Leo, the Kumbh is held at Nashik.
The fairs at Nashik and Ujjain are called Simhastha Kumbh as Jupiter is located in the constellation Simha (Leo). The Kumbh at Prayag is Vrishastha (Jupiter in Taurus) and the fair at Haridwar is Kumbhastha (Jupiter in Aquarius).
- Kumbh Mela at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik : Theoretically, kumbh mela should happen every three years in a different place. However, the exact time and place of the festival depends on astrological and religious considerations. This means that the Mela sometimes happens only a year apart at the different sites.
- Ardha Kumbha Mela: is held at Haridwar and Prayag (Allahabad), every six year
- Purna Kumbha Mela: Only at Prayag, every twelve year
- Maha Kumbha Mela: Only at Prayag, every 144 year
Mahakumbh is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Sangam, meeting place, of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati, at Prayag(Allahabad) where bathing for purification from sin is considered especially auspicious. This holy event with such tremendous faith has gained international fame. Famous ancient traveler. Huen Tsang of China, was the first to mention Kumbha Mela in his diary. His diary mentions the celbration of 75 days of hindu month of Magha (January-February), which witnessed half a million devotee including sadhus, common man, rich & famous & kings.
Main Bathing Dates – During Kumbh Fair – 2013
|Makar Sankranti||14 January|
|Paush Poornima||27 January|
|Mauni Amavasya||10 February|
|Basant Panchami||15 February|
|Maghi Poornima||25 February|
Dates, Location,Type of Kumbh Mela
- 2003 Kumbha Mela was held in Nashik, India, from July 27 to September 7, 2003
- 2010 Haridwar hosted the Kumbha mela from Makar Sankranti (14 January 2010) to Shakh Purnima Snan (28 April 2010)
- 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad (January 27 to February 25, 2013).
- 2015 Kumbh Mela in Nashik (August 15 to September 13, 2015)
- 2016 Kumbh Mela in Ujjain (April 22 to May 21, 2016)
The festival is billed as the “biggest gathering on Earth”
- In 2001 more than 40 million gathered on the busiest of its 55 days.
- Around 70 million people participated in the 45-day Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, in 2007.
- The last “Kumbh Mela ” held in 2010 in Haridwar estimated by the authorities to attract between 30 and 70 million people.
An estimated 30 million people visited the Maha Kumbh Mela on 10th February 2013 and an estimated 100 million are expected to visit the place during the festival spread over 55 days.People gather for all sorts of reasons from music to religion to economics. As per wikipedia list of the largest historic peaceful gatherings of people in one place for a single event are
- An estimated 25 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba’een in 2013.
- An estimated 15 to 18 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba’een in 2012.
- An estimated 15 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba’een in 2011.
- An estimated 15 million people attended the funeral of C. N. Annadurai in Tamil Nadu, India in 1969.
- An estimated 10 to 14 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba’een in 2010.
- An estimated 10 to 14 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba’een in 2009.
Some events where large numbers of people flock together are :Economic Confrence at Davos,Burning Man Festival,Procession of Black Nazarene, Mardi Gras can be seen by clicking the picture below. Ref: Economic Times The biggest gatherings on Earth(Jan 20 2013)
Mythological aspect of Kumbh Mela
Kumbh means pot or pitcher. Mela means festival or fair. Hence, the Kumbh Mela means festival of the pot. It specifically relates to the pot of nectar in Hindu mythology.
Legend has it that the gods once lost their strength. In order to regain it, they agreed with the demons to churn the primordial ocean of milk for amrit (the nectar of immortality). This was to be shared equally between them. However, a fight broke out, which went on for 12 human years. During the battle, the celestial bird, Garuda, flew away with the Kumbh that held the nectar. Drops of nectar are believed to have fallen in the places that the Kumbh Mela is now held — Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain. For details can read : kumbhmelaallahabad.gov.in Mythological aspect
Maha Kumbh in numbers
Bollywood earlier movies used to say “Mera bhai kumbh ke mele me bichad gaya“(I lost my brother in Kumbh mela) But I was amazed by sheer scale of Mela, the numbers are just mind-boggling! Check it out for yourselves (images from EconomicTimes)
As FirstPost writes Maha Kumbh Mela: Not just about religion, it’s about poverty too
No matter what the news reports say or what visuals you might have seen, nothing can prepare you for the sight as you first come across the grounds. It is nothing like you have seen before. At first sight, it just doesn’t make any sense. The whole place is lit with hundreds of yellow halogen lamps that cast an orange glow that lights up the entire sky. The dust rising from the millions walking remains suspended over the whole place like a low-hanging fog. The eyes burn from the hundreds of little fires that people have lit just to keep out the cold. You cannot hear yourself think as a multitude of loudspeakers blares devotional songs from every nook and corner. The loudest one blares out names of people who have been lost and how their family members are waiting for them at some point.
And then there are the people.
They are everywhere. There are families, kids, widows, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles huddled over little fires and waiting for the precise moment when they will take a dip. You cannot walk without stepping on a frayed blanket or kicking over someone’s precious belongings. You cannot walk past them without looking at some of their expressionless faces.
Or as Kumbh Mela’s big day: Faith, fever and mosquitoes shows what officals of Mela have to organize for due to the huge number of people!
It is not just the millions trickling into the sprawling 58 sq km campus of the Kumbh Mela that officials worry about. There is also an ‘army’ of mosquitoes to tackle.
The 14 sectors at Kumbh have been divided into 22 circles, with a doctor assigned for each circle. A total of 580 sweeper ‘gangs’ (each has 12 sweepers) have been pressed into service to work in eight-hour shifts. A total of 100 teams have been put into service to sprinkle DDT and anti-larva sprays in areas where water-logging has been reported.Officials admit several cases of malaria are being reported.
For more information on Mahakumbh : UP Tourism Page on Mahakumbh, Official website of MahaKumbh 2013, Official Facebook page , Official Twitter Page, Official Youtube pages, Yahoo;s Management Lessons from Kumbh, Boston’s Kumbh Mela in Pictures, Kumbh
What do you feel about Kumbh mela? Have you gone to Kumbh Mela? Do you want to go – Why or Why not? Will popularity of Maha Kumbh wane over period of time? Do celebrities make such events popular?