Kumbh Mela, Haridwar
Kumbh Mela at Haridwar is one of the most auspicious religious mass pilgrimages in Hinduism. It is also one of the largest peaceful gatherings of people anywhere in the world with millions of devotees and pilgrims partaking in the grand pilgrimage and take dip in holy river Ganges to absolve all their sins. Haridwar along with Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik are the four places where auspicious Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years.
The Great Maha Kumbh occurs after every 144 years. The most recent Kumbh fair at Haridwar took place in the year 2010 and the next fair is scheduled to take place is around 2021.
Haridwar is considered one of the Sapta Puri or ‘seven holy places’ according to the Hinduism. The Kumbh fair traces its origin in the ancient legend of Samudra Manthan. When the battle of churning ocean between devas and asuras led to the creation of Amrit, the Lord Vishnu instructed Garuda to fly away with the elixir to keep it beyond the reaches of asuras. Revered and sacred texts in Hinduism proclaim Haridwar to be one of the four places where drops of Amrit, the elixir of immortality were dropped from the kumbh (pot) by Garuda, the celestial bird of Lord Vishnu.
Kumbh Mela Dates
At any given places out of the four, the Kumbh fair is held every 12 years. The Maha Kumbh occurs every 144 years. The exact date for the fair is determined according to the Hindu calendar. The special combination of zodiac positions of Jupiter, the Sun and moon is determined to find the exact date of the fair.
For instance, at Haridwar, the sun is expected to be in Aries zodiac and Jupiter in Aquarius. This puts the date of festival in the month of Chaitra (March-April) according to the Hindu calendar. The next Kumbh Mela at Haridwar is scheduled to take place sometimes around 2021-2022.
Rites and Rituals
Million of pilgrims congregate on the banks of river Ganges to take part in the ritual bathing. It is believed taking a dip in the holy water at the auspicious Kumbh Mela cleanse devotees of all their sins. Another popular ritual at Kumbh Mela is the Peshwai procession which marks the arrival of members of different akharas and sect of sadhus. For instance, the Naga sadhus are the first to enter the holy water according to the fair tradition. Other rituals like devotional singing of hymns and religious discourse also take place at the Kumbh.
One another important aspect of Kumbh fair is the darshan of ascetics, sadhus and sages who usually nomadic, congregate at the Kumbh fair at large number. The Hindu pilgrims and devotees who visit Kumbh make sure to seek blessings and guidance from the sadhus towards their own spiritual life.