The Maha Kumbh Mela, considered the largest public gathering in the world, has its origin in the Hindu mythology. The term 'kumbh' is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning 'pitcher', and it also refers to the zodiac sign of Aquarius. The word 'mela' means gathering. The Kumbh Mela reaches its culmination in the first week of March, which also marks the occasion of Maha Shivratri, the last of the six dates for the 'Shahi Snan'.
When and where is Maha Kumbh celebrated?
Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years while the Maha Kumbh takes place four times in 12 years in the city of Haridwar, and the dates for this religious congregation are based on astrological calculations. The congregation includes ascetics, kalpvasis, pilgrims and tourists.
The Maha Kumbh Mela is conducted four times over the course of 12 years in rotation between four Hindu pilgrimage places on four rivers, including Ganga in Haridwar, Godavari in Nashik, Shipra in Ujjain, and at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati in Prayagraj.
The next Maha Kumbh mela will be held in 2025.
Preparations for Maha Kumbh
The over month-long fair begins with the construction of a massive tented township. It is set up to accommodate visitors and pilgrims, complete with platforms, cottages, huts, civic facilities, administrative and security measures. The event is organised by the government, the local authorities and the police.
Rituals of Maha Kumbh
Bath for 'soul-cleansing' is the most important ritual in maha kumbh mela. Devotees believe that by taking a dip in the river, their sins would be forgiven.
The other rituals include religious assemblies, devotional singing, mass feeding and debates on sacred doctrines. 'Satsangs' are an essential part of Maha Kumbh when devotees sit for hours listening to hymns, and discourses are held on Hinduism too to disseminate the knowledge about the religion.