By Pashchiema Bhatia
Kumbh Mela (‘Kumbh’ means pitcher and ‘Mela’ means fair in Hindi) is hosted in four cities – Ujjain, Allahabad, Haridwar and Nasik and held every third year at one of the four places by rotation. According to Hindu legend, during samudra manthan (churning sea to separate nectar and poison), Gods and demons were having fight over the nectar and then Lord Vishnu flew away with the pot of nectar spilling drops of nectar at four different places; where we celebrate Kumbh Melas. It is considered as one of the largest religious gathering where millions of people arrive and bathe in the sacred rivers – The Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Triveni Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Godavari at Nasik and the Shipra at Ujjain. Millions of Hindu pilgrims come either in groups or individually and celebrate the event with great enthusiasm.
- Ujjain, an ancient city of Malwa region in central India, is located on the eastern bank of the Shipra River. It is considered as one of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) of the Hindus. People believe that taking a royal bath in sacred Shipra River on the occasion of Kumbh Mela washes all the sins of previous births and hence the pilgrims consider it as an opportunity to get them revived from the never ending birth cycle. The Kumbh Mela hosted at Ujjain is known as ‘Simhastha Kumbh Mela’. (22 April 2016 – 21 May 2016)
- Allahabad Magh (Kumbh) Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the confluence of the three great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The Magh Mela is also referred as Mini Kumbh Mela as it is actually a smaller version of Kumbh Mela.
- Haridwar is considered as one of the most sacred places in India and it is situated at the feet of Shiva’s hills; Shivaliks. Millions of devotees take dips in bone-chilling cold weather of holy Ganga at the occasion of Ardh Kumbh Mela.
- Kumbh Mela in Nasik (Trimbakeshwar) is celebrated once in every twelve years and is known as Sinhasta. The Kumbh Mela is marked by millions of devotees’ plunging into the river Godavari that is believed to cleanse their souls leading to salvation.
- The Simhastha Kumbh Mela at Ujjain is currently on-going. The first Snan (Bathe) on April 22 marked the beginning of the event and the last Snan is scheduled for 21 May on the day of Purnima (Full Moon Night).