Millions take holy dip at Maha Kumbh
By SujoyDhar, Allahabad, Feb 10 : Kumbh Mela is called the biggest show on earth and the religious congregation at Allahabad that drew millions of people from India and distant shores had its biggest show on Sunday on the auspicious occasion of Mauni Amavasya snan (bathing) when nearly 30 million people took the holy dip along with the holy men at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
Called the Shahi Snan (royal bathing) , the holy dip started at 4 in the morning and a surge of humanity that perhaps no administrative mechanism has the resources to count took the bath following the ostentatious and delirious cavalcades of the sadhus, including the Nagas or the naked monks who hollered Har Har Mahadev, danced wildly and flexed their religiosity as they moved along the path cleared for them.
From the barricaded roadside millions who arrived watched the sadus and monks in awe and piety as they marched towards the Sangam (confluence) for the royal bathing.
An ocean of humanity is perhaps how the teeming crowd could be described as they came from all directions and headed towards the banks of the Ganga at Sangam for the holy dip to "purify themselves of all sins of life and escape rebirth."
The Maha Kumbh (kumbh meaning pitcher) is held every 12 years (what is held every six year is ardh kumbh) and so the carnival of Hindu beliefs and piety drew unbelievable number of people this time for the 55-day-long show, billed as the biggest congregation of humans on earth.
"I had come for purification, what I got is something beyond and so overwhelming that I cannot express," said Valeria Feroli, who came all the way from Rome for the holy dip.
"I bathed twice and I am just overwhelmed,' she said speaking to IBNS after he holy dip of faith.
While Valeria came all the way from Italy, Ram Sharan, a poor farmer, who came with his wife and daughter from Madhya Pradesh's Katni district said he felt blessed.
"I was living for this moment," he said as he stood by the route of the sadhus and tried to grab the flowers they threw on the crowd from their chariots.
For a moment Ram Sharan forgot the daily rigours of life and seemed to be enjoying the moment of his truth at Maha Kumbh.
The kumbh at Prayag is considered the most significant as it shows the light of wisdom and according to Hindu beliefs this was the place where creation of Universe had begun.
The old Indian civilization had also flourished from here on the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna.
According to Hindu scriptures like Matsyapuran, bathing at Sangam in Magh (the month when Kumbh is held) yields results equivalent to 10,010 crore or more journeys to holy places.
It is believed that Prayag (modern day Allahabad) is the place where one drop of the Amrit (immortality nectar) had fallen when the gods and the asuras (demons) fought over it after samudra manthan (churning of the ocean of milk).
To keep the amrit away from demons, the divine Garuda took the pot, and flew away from the battleground. While Garuda was in his flight over planet Earth, it is believed that four drops of nectar fell at four places - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, bestowing these places with mystical and spiritual power.
A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason.
It is believed that anyone who bathes with a pure mind here attains salvation from the recycle of birth and death.
Deliverance obtained through Yoga and jnan (knowledge) is attained by merely from a holy dip in Sangam, according to Hindu beliefs.
On Sunday owing to the Shahi Snan (royal bathing) the congregation was the largest of all the bathing days that began on Jan 14 with the Makar Sankranti Snan.
The next day of bathing was on Jan 27 when Paush PurnimaSnan was held, followed by the bathing on Sunday on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya. The next auspicious day of bathing is on Feb 15, the Basant Panchmi Snan. On Feb 25 is the Maghi Purnima Snan and then on March 10 is Mahashivratri Snan.
One of the charms of Maha Kumbh is the Akhara of the sadhus. Akhara means the place for wrestling but here in the context of Kumbh it is the camp of an organized community of sadhus that go by its own specific tradition and practice.
The sects of sadhus are Dashnami Sanyasis or Naga Sanyasis (naked sadhus who worship Lord Shiva), Bairaagi (worshipper of Vishnu) and Udaseen.
At the bathing venue and all along the route of the sadhus could be seen countless photographers and journalists who have congregated from all over the world to capture the greatest show on earth.
Meanwhile, official source said one person died during the day but it was not confirmed if the person died of near stampede or any other reason. --IBNS