India - Kumbh Mela Festival

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Kumbh Mela Festival

The Kumbh Mela is the largest Hindu festival that occurs once in twelve years in India and lasting for 42 days at the union of India's Ganges and Yamuna rivers. It is the largest gathering of people with a religious in the world with the purpose of sharing knowledge and information about religion and other spiritual practices.

The historical origin of the Kumbh Mela dates back to the time when there was a conflict among the gods and the demons over the possession of the "Amrit Kumbh", or the pot of unending nectar. During the fight, some drops of the amrit splashed and fell at four places. These four places were: Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. They are considered the sacred sites for the Kumbh Mela, with Allahabad being the largest and most sacred.

The major event of this festival is a ritual bath at the banks of the rivers in each town. Those who make the pilgrimage to Kumbh Mela have the sole purpose to bathe in the waters to purify themselves and break the cycle of reincarnation. The pilgrims believe that taking a dip in the river will bring them wealth, fertility and pardon from their sins.

Kumbh Mela is attended by millions of people on a single day. The pilgrims come from all walks of life, after traveling long distances and tolerating many physical discomforts, such as sleeping in the open air in near sub-zero weather. They undergo these difficulties just to receive the benefit of taking a bath in the sacred river at Kumbh Mela.

Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing and mass feeding of the holy men. As night falls, thousands of campfires can be seen burning along the riverbanks. Large tents are building to accommodate the thousands who listen to some of India's endowed gurus. It is interesting to note that all the food arrangements throughout the festival are vegetarian. There is not a trace of meat, fish or eggs to be found in any camp or in any public eating place. A new city crops up along the banks of the river during the Kumbha Mela complete with markets, hospitals, and even a tourist camp to accommodate visitors from foreign countries.

Kumbh Mela has gained international fame as Pilgrims come to this holy event with such tremendous faith and in such vast numbers that it boggles the mind. Faith is the most important thing for the pilgrims at Kumbh Mela and unless you are personally present there you can’t really feel the religious fervor of the pilgrims.


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