Kumbh Mela is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world where millions of people gather to take a bath in a sacred river Ganges. The Mela (fair) has a religious and cultural significance particularly to Hindus, but it has always been a center of attraction for the people across the world.
People are often confused between Kumbh Mela, Ardh Kumbh Mela and Maha Kumbh since all of these sounds a bit similar so I am going to clear your doubts here.
- Kumbh Mela or Purna Kumbh (Purna means complete) occurs every 3 years at either of these four places i.e. Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik, and Prayagraj. All four places need to be covered one by one within 12 years. The last Purna Kumbh held at Allahabad (now renamed as Prayagraj) in the year 2013.
- Ardh Kumbh or Half Kumbh (Ardh means Half) occurs every 6 years at either Prayagraj or Haridwar. Last Ardh Kumbh Mela was held at Triveni Sangam, Prayagraj from Jan 15, 2019, to March 04, 2019.
- Maha Kumbh occurs after completion of 12 Purna Kumbhas i.e. every 144 years. It can only be held at Prayagraj. The last Maha Kumbh Mela occurred in the
History of Kumbh Mela
- Kumbh Mela is made up of two words i.e. Kumbh and Mela. Kumbh means “Pot” and Mela means “Fair or gathering”. Both of these words came from the Sanskrit language.
- It all started, when Sage Durvasa cursed Indra for mishandling his garland which he gifted to Indra.
- Indra put this garland on his elephant’s “Airavata” head. The elephant shook his head and the garland fell on the floor. Sage Durvasa was angry seeing his gift is being treated so badly and that is the reason he cursed Indra and Devas.
- Because of this curse, Devatas started losing their powers and also started losing fights against the Asuras (Devils). Result of which, Devatas went to Lord Vishnu asking them to help. Lord Vishnu asked them to churn the ocean (Sagar Manthan) and drink the nectar of immortality to regain their powers.
- Since it was very difficult for Devtas to churn the ocean and produce the nectar all alone so Devtas and the Asuras agreed to work together on this and decided to share the Amrit later in half. The Devtas and the demons then assembled on the shore of the milk ocean that lies in the celestial region of the cosmos.
- Fourteen different types of precious stones came out of Manthan along with halahala (a deadly poison) which started injuring both sides because of its poisonous fumes.
- Devtas and Asuras ran to Lord Vishnu for help and Lord Vishnu sent them to Lord Shiva. So both parties went to Mount Kailash to ask for Lord Shiva’s help.
- Lord Shiva realized the seriousness of the issue so he decided to swallow the poison so the entire universe could be saved.
- His wife Goddess Parvati knew about this dangerous poison so he gripped Lord Shiva’s neck with both hands so the poison doesn’t reach his stomach. Because of this poison, his neck turned blue and this is why we also call Lord Shiva as “Neelkantha“. Neelkantha is made up of two words i.e. Neel and Kantha. Neel means Blue and Kantha means Throat.
- However, when the pot appeared from the ocean with Dhanvantari, a fight ensued while distribution. For 12 long days and nights, the Devtas and Demons fought for the pot of nectar.
- The demons chased the Devtas for many days. During this time the drops of Kumbh dropped at 4 places i.e. Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. These four places are since then believed to have acquired mystical powers. The fight for the Kumbh i.e. the sacred pitcher between the Gods and demons continued for 12 divine days, which is considered to be as long as 12 years for humans. That is why the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in 12 years and gathering took place on the above mentioned sacred places only.
- It is believed that during this period the rivers turned into Amrit and so, several pilgrims from across the world visit the Kumbh Mela to bathe in the essence of purity and immortality.
- The venue for Kumbh Mela is decided according to the position of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter hold in that period in different zodiac signs.
- The first written evidence of the Kumbh Mela is mentioned in
BhagavataPurana. Also, about the Samudra Manthanis also mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, Mahabharata, andRamayana.
The main festival site is located on the banks of a river Ganga at Haridwar; the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Prayagraj; the Godavari at Nashik; and the Shipra at Ujjain.
It is believed that once you take a dip you wash away all your sins. The word ‘sin’ comes from Western dictionary which means “an act of offence against God”. In Hinduism, sin (Sanskrit: पाप pāpa “vice”) describes actions that create negative karma by violating moral and ethical codes, which automatically brings negative consequences. The word “paapa” is not equivalent to the Christian idea of sin.
If you are depressed, going through negative thoughts, then taking a dip in this holy river can wash away your negative thoughts and makes you a better, positive minded person.
Interesting Facts About Ardh Kumbh 2019
- Over 20 million people took a holy dip by the end of the first day of Ardh Kumbh, officials said.
- Total of 125-150 million people gathered from across the world for this 55 days festival.
- It is for the first time that representatives of 172 countries participated in the Kumbh Mela. This time, the Kumbh Mela is spread over an area of 3,200 hectares which is almost 20% bigger than that of 2013 Kumbh.
- Sadhus of 13 akharas (seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh) who have traditionally participated in the Kumbh Mela, were the first to take the holy bath.
- The UP government led by Yogi Adityanath has allocated whopping INR 4,200 crore (largest buget ever) for the Ardh Kumbh, more than thrice the budget of the Purna Kumbh in 2013. The budget allocated in the year 2013 was INR 1300 crore.
- It generated over 1 lakh crore ($15.38 Billion) revenue in just 55 days.
- The number of toilets in the Kumbh 2013 was around 70,000 while the same is 120,000 in the Kumbh Mela 2019.
- Nearly 30,000 police have been deployed for crowd management and prevent stampedes that have marred previous gatherings.
- Kumbh Mela takes place on the dates when the Amrit (Nectar) is said to have fallen on the earth. Every year, the dates are calculated according to the combination of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon’s zodiac positions.
- The world’s largest gathering Kumbh
melahas been included in the UNESCO’s representative list ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
- Amongst the four cities Prayagraj, Nashik, Haridwar and Ujjain, the Kumbh Mela held in Prayagraj is the oldest of all.