Want to Know more about our services?
Provide your contact info & we will call you back.
The Kumbh Mela is one of the world’s oldest and mostsignificant gathering of religious pilgrims and is also one of the mostsignificant Hindu pilgrimages destinations of India. The Kumbh Mela is over2000 years old and has been documented by Chinese travellers to India duringthe reign of King Harshwardhan, and the 2013 Kumbh Mela held in Haridwarwitnessed over 100 million visitors.
The Kumbh Mela is held every 3 years in a rotation inHaridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain, hence each location host the Kumbh Melaonce in 12 years. The Kumbh Mela of 2019 was held in Allahabad, Kumbh Mela washeld in Haridwar in 2022, Next Kumbh Mela 2025 (Purn Kumbha / Maha Kumbh Mela)will be held in Allahabad (Prayagraj)
Every 6 years, Ardh Kumbh Mela is hosted by Haridwar andAllahabad. Kumbh Mela is also known as the festival of the sacred pitcher asKumbh literally translates as a pitcher in Sanskrit. The story behind the Kumbhmela goes back to mythological times when it is said that Gods were used toresiding on Earth and demons were causing havoc over the world as the God’swere weakened by a curse of Sage Durvasas.
It was then that Lord Brahma advised the Gods to churn outthe nectar of immortality with the help of the demons. Upon learning about theplan of the Gods, the demons decided not to share the nectar with the Godswhich lead to a 12-day chase, during which it is believed that some of thenectar fell in four places, namely the present day Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasikand Ujjain.
Hindus believe that the waters of these holy rivers turn intonectar during the dates when the Kumbh Mela is held with devotees believingthat taking a dip in the sacred rivers during the Kumbh Mela liberates a personfrom all their past sins and they are eternally blessed by the divine waters ofthe holy rivers. These dates are calculated and determined according to thezodiac positions of the planet of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon.
Travellers and tourist can experience several divineencounters at this event and witness holy men from many different Hindu sects.For example, the Nagas, who do not wear anything, the Kalpwasis, who bathe aday thrice, the Urdhawavahurs, who believe in putting their bodies throughextreme austerity with each sect has their own sacred ritual which the travellerscan witness during the Kumbh Mela.
Travelers can also experience a mix of religious and culturalfeatures of Hinduism with the atmosphere filled with chiming bells, smell offragrant flowers and incense in the air, sounds of Vedic hymns, chants, mantras,drum beats etc throughout the mela, sadhus from different akharas or ordersproceeding with the gold and silver chariots with devotees pulling them etc.
Every pilgrim at the Kumbh Mela showcases paramount of vigourand flair desiring for the cleansing of their soul and washing away their pastsins in the holy waters of the sacred rivers at the site of the Kumbh Mela.
Kumbh Mela- The largest congregation of religious pilgrims inthe world
With a rich history that dates back to time immemorial, theKumbh Mela is the paramount pilgrimage festival of the Hindu religion. Held infour holy cities of the Indian subcontinent, the Kumbh Mela witnesses millionsof devotees traveling across the globe, just to experience the grandeur of thisreligious fair.
It is the confluence of people belonging to different social,religious, and cultural sects of the society, who all come together to see theblessings from the Almighty. Held after every 12 years, this festival isorganized with great spirits and devotion. Given below is a guide to all youneed to know about the extravagant fair of Kumbh Mela. Collect more informationabout celebrated last year Allahabad Kumbh Mela 2019 for future fair like whatactivities you can do and watch.
History of the Kumbh Mela- The history behind the festival
Inscribed in the ancient texts sacred to Hindus called ThePuranas, the intriguing legend of Kumbh Mela dates back to thousands of yearsago. It speaks about the time when the Devtas (or the Gods) and the Asuras (orthe Demons) used to reside on Earth. The demons were causing mayhem, creating aruckus everywhere they went and causing destruction. Our Golden Triangle TourPackages India offers many golden opportunities to tourists for travelling inIndia and see and hang out many beautiful places of India.
The gods were watching all their doings but were unable toact. They were under the curse of Sage Durvasa, and it is because of the cursetheir powers had become weak. They had to wait for the curse to lift in orderto use their divine powers with full might. With time the demons got moreatrocious and started causing great unrest. So one day, Lord Brahma, thecreator of the universe, decided to end their tyranny.
He went up to the Asuras and told them about the Milky Oceanhidden in the celestial region of cosmos. The water of the Milky Ocean, whenchurned non-stop for hundreds of years, yields divine nectar. This nectar,known as the Amrita, was the magical elixir of immortality. The Asuras,determined to obtain this nectar, agreed to work in unison with the Devtas anddivide the nectar into equal parts. As decided, they reached the shore of MilkyOcean.
With Mount Madara as the churning rod and Vasuki, theserpent, as their rope, the Demons, and the Gods started churning. They toiledfor 1000 years. Lord Shiva, the destroyer, also drank the poison which formedduring the process. One day, after a lot of hardship, Dhanwantari, the divinehealer, finally emerged, holding a pot in her hands. And in this pot wasAmrita, the nectar of immortality. She handed the sacred pot to the gods.
However, upon receiving the pot, the gods tricked the demonsand refused to share the nectar. Enraged, the demons started looking for it.Lord Brahma then handed over the pot’s responsibility to Lords Brahaspati,Surya, Shani, and Chandra. When the demons came to know about their plan, theycame after them.
The lords ran with the sacred pot in their hand to protectthe nectar from falling into the wrong hands of the Asuras. The chase lastedfor 12 days, with it said to be almost 12 years of Earth. During their fight,it said that some drops of the nectar fell in four places. These places wereHaridwar, Ujjain, Prayagraj and Nasik. And this is how the story of their fightbecame the legend behind the revered festival of Kumbh Mela.
Significance of the festival
The name itself reveals the tale behind this festival.According to the Sanskrit language, the word Kumbh means ‘Pot’, while Melameans ‘Fair’ or ‘Gathering.’ Hence, Kumbh Mela is the festival that celebratesthe sacred pot of immortality elixir, which was bravely guarded by the Gods ofHindu mythology.
Every 12 years, pilgrims gather from farthest corners of theworld to celebrate this occasion on India travel. The 4 cities, where the dropsof nectar fell, are worshipped as a holy land. During the days of Kumbh Mela,it is believed that the water of the sacred rivers flowing, transform againinto Amrita.
Thus, people bath in these water with the hope to become pureby washing away their sins, and achieve their lord’s blessings. A dip, withpure heart and devotion, grants an eternal life free of sins.
Different aspirations bring different individuals to theretreat of Kumbh Mela. Some pray to seek forgiveness. Some pray for their god’sblessings. Some seek the peace it brings from within while others come to feelthe liveliness surrounding the carnival.
When it comes to integration, Kumbh Mela is the perfectplatform for fusion of people belonging to diverse sects of society. Despitetheir different religious, social, and cultural beliefs, tourists from variedtraditional cultures come together and take part in the festivity.
Through its various rituals, it spreads the message ofhumanity, peace, oneness, and harmony. Each ritual incorporates the sciences ofastronomy and astrology, along with cultural beliefs and religious practices.
Types of Kumbh
Depending upon the intervals between two consecutivecelebrations, Kumbh Mela in India is categorized into three types.
The first is known as Purna Kumbh Mela. Literally translatingto ‘full’ Kumbh, this fair is held once in 12 years at each of the 4 sites.
The second one is called Ardh Kumbh Mela, or the ‘half’Kumbh. The venue is rotated between Haridwar and Prayagraj in Allahabad. Itoccurs in every 6 months.
Lastly, the third type is called the Great Kumbh or the MahaKumbh Mela. Held only at Prayagraj, this festival is celebrated once 12 PurnaKumbh Melas come to completion. Hence, it only occurs once every 144 years.
If you want to see the Indian culture in reality and want toknow the Indians fairs and festivals celebrated here closely, then you must seethe Kumbh Mela, for this, you can take the help of tour agency in India whowill help you fully.
Venues of Kumbh Mela- When and where is it celebrated?
While waging war with the demons, the drops of nectar droppedby Lord Vishnu (the preserver) served as the source of divine powers thattransformed the land and water of these places. Since then, the cities ofHaridwar, Prayagraj, Nasik, and Ujjain have become supreme pilgrimage sites.
The banks of the holy rivers coursing through these cities iswhere the Mela is set up. Hence, every 3 years, one of these holy citiesorganizes the fair in rotation, to welcome the devotees with great pomp andzeal. Dates are finalized by observing the different zodiac signs in thatperiod. The positions of Brahaspati (Jupiter), Surya (Sun) and Chandra (Moon)together help to decide the auspicious dates to commence the celebrations.
In Haridwar, the fair is set up near the banks of holy riverGanga. It falls in the spring season, between March and April, or Hindu monthof Chaitra. The zodiacal position of Jupiter is in Aquarius, and Sun is inAries. The first bathing day always falls on Shivratri.
In Pragyraj (Allahabad) 2025 (Purn Kumbha / Maha Kumbh Mela),the intersection of River Ganga and River Yamuna forms the site for the fair.It is organized in the winters of January and February, as per the Hindu monthof Magha. The first bathing day always falls on Makar Sankranti. During thisperiod, the Jupiter lies either in Aries or Taurus, while the Sun and Moon liein Capricorn.
In Nasik, the ghats of River Godavari form the setting. Thefair is organized in summers, in the Bhadrapada months of August and September.The first bathing date is Chaitra Purnima.
Finally, in Ujjain, the banks of River Shipra serve as theground for the fair. The first bathing day falls on Simha Sakranti. And thefestival occurs in Vaisakha, the spring season, in April and May.
Rituals of Kumbh Mela- What all happens during the 48 days
Thousands of tourists filled with great zeal and fervorattend the day-long rituals that take place on the embankments of the sacredrivers. Devotional prayers are sung along with beating drums and ringing bellsto please the gods. The highlights of all the rituals and ceremonies of thisfestival are mentioned below.
Aarti: The Devotional Singing
In Hinduism, deities are worshipped by chanting melodioushymns, or Aartis. These songs are sung to praise the glory of the gods. Throughthem, the devotees express the gods their gratitude for providing them with allthey have in their life and seek their blessings to endure each hardship withstrength. Through these hymns, they speak of the undying devotion they have fortheir creator, and in return, ask to bless their loved ones with happiness andprosperity.
Maha Aartis are sung twice a day. The first one is sung veryearly in the morning, almost at the break of the dawn, while the second one isduring the evening. This moment is one of the most transcendent experiences.Pilgrims and tourists gather at the Ghats or the banks of the holy rivers.Staged on a platform near the river stand the priests, adorning cotton dhotis,and lighting the gold plated lamps.
Absolute silence surrounds the setting, with nothing but thesound of waves gently lapping, escaping the quiet. And then the Aarti begins.The priests lift the dazzling lamps and start rotating them in circles as theychant the mantras. Bells are ringed in rhythm to the chorus. The touristsattending the ceremony close their eyes and with folded hands, start recitingtheir prayers. The rhythmic synchronization and resonating melodies of theevent are what captivates the heart of the tourists present in the ceremony.
Deep Dan: The Lighting of Earthen Lamps
A graceful ritual of the festival is the lighting of handmadeearthen lamps called Diyas. Known as Deep Dan, this ceremony involvesdecorating the exterior of the shops, stalls, and houses present in the citywith glowing diyas and candles.
They are placed inside the temples, near the river banks, insome sacred spots in the forests, and even in front of the idols of God. Thegolden flame of the diyas illuminates the entire city during the nighttime. Theidea behind this ritual is admirable. Just like a single glowing Diya can driveout the darkness from any place, it is symbolized that even a single small actof kindness can drive out the bitterness from any person’s heart.
Snan: The Religious Bath
Marked as the most significant ritual of the entire festival,Snan, or the holy bath, witnesses thousands of pilgrims collecting at the riverbanks to take a dip in its holy waters. The event begins with a celebratoryprocession of the sadhus present at the ceremony, who march towards the Ghats.
Walking alongside them are people mounted on elephants andhorses, carrying banners and flags in their hands, cheering the monks walkingahead. Musicians play tunes with great pomp, enthralling the tourists withtheir melodies.
As the Kumbh procession reaches the banks, the holy monkstake the first dip in the waters, after which the bathing ritual begins for thecommon people. Pilgrims close their eyes and chant prayers with full devotionwhile standing in the river.
They then take a dip and bathe in this water, with the hopeof atonement of their past sins. Flowers, milk, coconut, and sindoor(vermillion) are presented as offerings. If you are a girl then must read sometips for solo female travelers, before coming to this place, that can help youwith protection.
The religious bathing takes place every day, starting asearly as 3 a.m. However, the most auspicious bath is considered on the night ofthe new moon or Amavasya. Legend has it that bathing in the river on this dayliberates a person from the rebirth cycle, and hence achieves moksha orsalvation.
Yajnas and Kirtans: The Chanting of Prayers
After bathing in the holy river, the pilgrims move towardsthe temples where the priests perform the yajnas. Brahmins, or the priests,light a sacred fire, and crowds gather around the platform. After makingofferings to Agni, the holy god of fire, the priests start mouthing Sanskritmantras to worship and seek the boons of the Almighty. It is said that throughyajnas, a spiritual connection binds the gods and his devotees together.
Another form of spiritual recitation is Kirtans. Priests playinstruments and chant devotional hymns describing the traditional folklore andlegends of their deities. The audience sings along with the singer, whilemusicians play classical instruments like harmonium, veena, and sitar (stringinstrument), tablas (single drums), flute and cymbals.
Darshan: Interacting with the Sages
Kumbh Mela is an amazing opportunity for those wishing toclosely observe the life of Sadhus, the orthodox religious worshippers. Darshanis a Sanskrit word that means ‘viewing.’ It is the interaction between theSadhus and the common masses.
Traveling endlessly for days, these Sadhus belong todifferent akharas or religious sects and are the distinguished followers ofdifferent Hindu deities. On arriving at Kumbh Mela, they perform Snan at theriver and then reside in their tents. Sadhus adopt an austere way of life.Theyare free from materialistic desires and devote their life to the service oftheir Almighty. Hence, to seek spiritual advice and knowledge, the pilgrimstake a keen interest in interacting with these sages.
This event is known as Darshan and is an unparalleledexperience where you get to indulge in intimate conversations with thesereligious devotees. The meetings are presided over in careful supervision ofthe authorities to ensure nothing happens that can enrage the sadhus or hurttheir religious sentiments.
Mahaprasada and Langar: The Celebratory Feast
Refreshing drinks, sweets, and delicacies are prepared by streetvendors who set up stalls in Kumbh Mela. The tourists satisfy their taste budsby indulging in local cuisines at the restaurants.However, the auspicious foodof the rituals is served in a celebratory feast called Mahaprasada.
Considered as the blessing of the god, the incrediblyluscious prasad is prepared using milk and dry fruits and is generally a sweetlike halwa and laddoo. Devotees volunteer to work collectively for preparingthe prasad and distributing it to each and every pilgrim present.
A communal feast is also organized for the priests, as wellas the hungry and needy pilgrims. This is called Langar. Funded by thedonations received from various families and communities, the food in Langar isalso cooked and served by volunteers. All dishes prepared are meat-less andpurely vegetarian as the people criticize any form of violence against animals.
Pravachan: The Enlightening Religious Discussions
Monks, saints, and religious scholars gather to preach thesayings of ancient Vedic texts and Holy Scriptures. This social event is knownas Satsang, while the recitation and discussions are known as Pravachan. Hugemasses of pilgrims collect in tents while the saints recite notable texts fromthe holy books.
They explain the meanings of those legends, the importancethey hold in the Hindu religion, and how one can incorporate the lessons fromthem to live a peaceful life. From sacred texts like Mahabharata and Ramayanato scriptures of Bhagavata Purana and Vedas, the teachings give insightfulknowledge annotated in the Hindu mythology.
Sadhus and Sants attending the Mela
Preserving the teachings of Hinduism and its culture is thereligious community called Akharas. The sacred saints of these communities aretitled Sadhus and Sants. These monks decide to follow very strict rules to losethemselves completely in the devotion of their gods. Some fast for days, whileothers who bathe four times a day. Some plain monochrome clothes, while othersstay wear nothing and cover their entire body with ash.
Each akhara has worshippers of a particular deity, but mostof them are devotees of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Every 3 years, when theKumbh Mela is organized in one of the four pilgrimage sites, sadhus from over13 akharas grace the fair with their presence and interact with the pilgrims.Many rituals like Shahi Snan, do not commence till the sadhus take the firstdip in the sacred river. The 13 akharas attending the Kumbh Mela are asfollows.
The Shaiva akharas are orthodox followers of Lord Shiva, thedestroyer. There are 7 Shaiva akharas, namely Mahanirvani, Atal, Niranjani,Anand, Juna, Avahan, and Agni.
The Vaishnava akharas are the worshippers of Lord Vishnu, thepreserver. They are 3 in total, namely Nirvani, Digambar, and Nirmohi.
Finally, the Sikh akharas are followers of Sikhism. They arealso 3 in number, namely Bara Panchayati Udasins, Chota Panchayati Udasins, andNirmal.
Some people make the transition during the Kumbh Mela byadopting the life of Kalpavasis. Liberating themselves from worldly desires,the Kalpavasis fast during the days, eat plain vegetarian food, follownon-violence, and swear lifelong celibacy.
Cultural Events of the Mela
Despite being a prominent pilgrimage for Hindus, Kumbh Melais not just about the grand religious ceremonies. A lot of culturalperformances and activities are organized by the authorities to entertain thetourists attending this extravagant fair. Check out the top cultural festivalsin India.
The cities remain alive even at nights with crowds walkingmerrily on the river banks, enjoying the gentle breezes and illuminated vistasof the city. Boat rides and rafting are organized at some spots during the daytime.Folk singers coming from different corners of the country fill the airwith their mellow symphonies. Classical dancers swoon to the rhythm with theirtraditional dance forms and give cultural dance performances.
Laser shows, a popular event amongst the tourists, are alsoorganized on some nights. You can also discover the archeologically andhistorically significant sites on a guided tour of the city. And you can shoplocally for handcrafted artifacts to take as souvenirs of the festival.
Kumbh Mela is the supreme pilgrimage of Hindus, witnessing amassive crowd of about 30 to 50 million people, making it “world’s largestcongregation of religious pilgrims.”
Held after every 12 years, the dates of this festival basedon the zodiacal positions of Jupiter, Moon, and Sun, and follow the Hindulunisolar calendar.
The entire celebration generally lasts up to 48 days but caneven extend to 3 months.
Origin of the festival dates back to thousands of years andis mentioned in texts called ‘Puranas’ as Samundra Manthan. This is the reasonwhy the fair’s location is always near the banks of some holy river.
The event has also been included by UNESCO in its list ofIntangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Large scale management required for smoothly organizing thisfestival serves as a temporary yet important source of income for many people.
Due to the heavy crowd that gathers, there are a lot ofpeople who get separated from their families during the celebrations. Hence,assistance is provided to them through the Bhule-Bhatke Kendra.
Top InterestingFacts Of Kumbh Mela