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Kumbh Mela – A massive Hindu pilgrimage of celebration

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By Smitakshi Guha

A massive Hindu pilgrimage of celebration, the Kumbh Mela marks the immense faith devotees hold in their deities, wherein they all gather and take a holy dip and bathe in a sacred river. The pilgrimage takes place in grand scale, and fundamentally, as per traditions followed since ages, there are four grand Kumbh Melas celebrated in the country. These are: the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Allahabad Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha, and the Ujjain Simhashtha.

Due to its immense popularity, many priests from other towns too have started their own Kumbh Mela, but it is only the four mentioned above that still continue to be the largest and most celebrated in India. These four fairs are conducted in a sequential manner, which goes this way: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik, and at last, Ujjain.

Since the holy rivers are the main element of the festival where it is celebrated in a huge scale, they are held on the banks of the rivers. For Haridwar, it the holy River Ganges, for Allahabad, it is the confluence point of three holy rivers—Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati, for Nashik, it is the banks of holy River Godavari, and for Ujjain, it is River Shipra.

It is said that during the fair, if one chooses to bathe in any of these rivers, s/he will be wiped off any sins that s/he committed in life. The time and frequency of the Kumbh Mela makes it more significant in Hindu culture, since in any given place, it is held only once every 12 years, making it a rare yet joyous and extremely occasion. That is not all. Apart from these Kumbh Melas, there’s a Maha Kumbh Mela, which is celebrated once every 144 years. Yes, at a gap of almost one and half century.

According to legend, what determines the location of these grand Kumbh Mela pilgrimages is the fact that Lord Vishnu, on his way to take the Amrita—the immortality elixir to its destination, dropped bits of it in four places from his pot, that is the Kumbh. These four places turned out to be the destinations of the four Kumbh fairs.

In fact, such is the popularity and density of the occasions that the pilgrimage has been tagged as the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims, and is also regarded as one of the largest peaceful gatherings and celebrations in the whole world.

Featured Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

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