In this article, we will some of the most important points about Kumbh Mela - World's Oldest and Largest Pilgrimage Festival. The Kumbh is known to be one of the most sacred Festivals. This auspicious Hindu festival gets celebrated once in every few years. It is the world's largest, grandest and most spectacular event. This festival brings entire community of saints, monks, people from different section of society, rich and poor together under one umbrella of harmony and joy. We will see some of the most mesmerizing facts about this festival in below section.
Kumbh Mela - World's Oldest and Largest Pilgrimage Festival
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- It is a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism.
- The first official document that mention about the start of the Kumbh Mela is in the 7th Century Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang travel document where he mentioned about Emperor Harshavardhana or Harsha who first started a Kumbh-like fair where half a million people had gathered at Prayag to bathe in the rivers.
- After completion of every revolution of Brihaspati (Jupiter) that is approximately 12 years, this festival is celebrated at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: the Allahabad (Prayagraj) (Ganga- Yamuna- Saraswati rivers confluence), Haridwar (Ganga), Nashik (Godavari), Ujjain (Shipra).
- The Nashik and Ujjain festivals have been celebrated in the same year or one year apart, typically about 3 years after the Haridwar Kumbh Mela.
- The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the river water.
- The primary bearers in this festival are from Akharas, Ashrams and other religious places.
- The pilgrims believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to prayascitta for past mistakes, and that it cleanses them of their past sins.
- This festival is celebrated in three phases. First is Ardha Kumbh which is celebrated after every 6 years, second is Kumbh which is celebrated after every 12 years, and the third is Maha Kumbh which is celebrated after every 144 years.
- The festival is observed over many days, with the day of Amavasya attracting the largest number on a single day.
- The largest single day congregation of about 50 million pilgrims was recorded on 4th February, 2019.
- Saints and pilgrims from all over India gather at Kumbh to celebrate the mythological story of Samudra Manthan.
- Churning of the great ocean, which is believed to have produced a pot bearing Amrit, the nector of immortality.
- The festival is one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world, and considered as the "world's largest congregation of religious pilgrims".
- It has been inscribed on the UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- This pot of Amrit was carried to the heavens passing through four Holy sites after the legend war between Devas and Asuras. The four places are Allahabad or Prayagraj, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. More on wikipedia.
- It gained importance under King Harshvardhan's reign over North India. The Kumbh Mela was popularised across India by Adi Shankaracharya.
- The date and length of Kumbh Mela celebration is decided by astronomy basis the zodiac locations of the planets Jupiter, Sun and Moon.
- As such there is no mentioned about Kumbh Mela in ancient texts but there are some references given about Magh Mela in several puranas.
- According to few officials, over the years socio-political development led to the rebranding of ancient Magh mela as the modern Kumbh Mela, particularly after the Indian rebellion of 1857.
- Sometimes Kumbh Melas became site for tragedies as well due to various reasons. One of the greatest stampede tragedy that occurred in 1820 took life of 485 devotees in Haridwar. Similarly, there were few tragedies happened during 19th and 20th Century.