Maha Kumbh Mela
Prayag (Allahabad), India
January/February 2013

 

The Kumbh at Allahabad (Prayag) is a very ancient gathering. The earliest eyewitness account is from the Chinese monk Xuanzang (Huen Sang), who visited in 636 AD and saw King Harsha Vardhan give away all his wealth and possessions at the Mela. Many rich Indians still do this at every Kumbh.

It is believed that during the Vedic periods when Gods and Demons ruled the world, the duo made a temporary agreement to work together for churning Amrita (nectar of immortality) from the Milky Ocean, and share it equally among them. But when the Kumbh (pot) containing Amrita (nectar) appeared, the demons fled with it. The Gods chased them and fought with them for twelve days and nights (equivalent to twelve human years) in the sky for its possession. During the battle, drops of Amrita fell on earth in four places: Prayag (Allahabad), Nasik, Haridwar and Ujjain. It is believed that due to the drops of Amrita, these places have acquired mystical powers. This celebration (Mela or gathering) happens every twelve years most importantly in Prayag (Allahabad) on the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati, and is considered the most sacred of all and is attended by millions of people.

The next Kumbh Mela is the Maha (grand) Kumbh Mela which takes place in Prayag (Allahabad) in January / February 2013.

When the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries, the holy event of the Kumbh Mela begins. It is believed that during this periods, the passage from Earth to other higher planets is open, and the soul can easily attain the celestial worlds. Thus by bathing in the holy river, past sins are washed off and the soul attains Moksha (becomes eligible for liberation from the cycle of birth and death). People take ritual baths in the holy river at a predetermined time, oblivious of local conditions and the crowds. The river offers purity, wealth and fertility, and washes away sins of those who bathe in it.

This once-in-a-12-year-period event blends religious and cultural features alike. Apart from pilgrims, many acclaimed saints and sadhus (Hindu holy men) from around the world come to participate in the Kumbh Mela, and specifically the Maha Kumbh Mela. The most prominent are the Naga Sadhus who do not wear any clothes and smear ash on their bodies. There are also the Urdhwavahurs who believe in putting their bodies through severe austerities; Parivajakuas who have taken a vow of silence and go about tinkling little bells to get people out of their way; Shirshsins who stand 24-hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads; Kalpvasis spend the entire month of the Kumbh on the banks of the Ganga, meditating, performing rituals and bathing three times a day.

The venue becomes the center of religious discussion and religious assemblies where doctrine is debated and standardized. The entire atmosphere excites and then invigorates all senses: Sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. Experience beating of drums on horses, camels and elephants, during the processions of naga sadhus from different akhadas (orders) in their gold and silver chariots being pulled by devotees, as they show their strength and skills. Chiming bells, incense and flower fragrance, Vedic hymns, mantras, color of both clothes and ash covered skin, tastes of different foods an experience which will be with you for the rest of your life pure enchantment for the soul.

Main bathing dates of the forthcoming Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013 are as follows where the 3 shahi snaan dates (major bathing dates but also most crowded) are identified:

Sunday, 27 January 2013 - Paush Purnima snaan (Shahi snaan)
Wednesday, 6 February 2013 - Ekadashi snaan
Sunday, 10 February 2013 - Mauni Amavasya snaan (Shaahi Snaan)
Friday, 15 February 2013 - Basant Panchami snaan
Sunday, 17 February 2013 - Rath saptami snaan
Monday, 18 February 2013 - Bhishma Ekadashi snaan
Monday, 25 February 2013 - Maghi Purnima snaan (Shaahi snaan)

Accommodation:
Allahabad will be inundated with pilgrims, and hotels and support services will be offering services often of a nature not acceptable to us. We are pleased to inform you that our partners at this mega event will be erecting a tented colony an ideal & luxurious Maha Kumbh camp for a spiritual holiday, photography tours & to learn more about yoga, located close to the festival area. The details are given below.

Location:
The camp and the Ayurveda Conference will be on the banks of the Ganges at Ganga Action Parivar, Kumbh Mela, Arail Ghat, across Naini Bridge, Allahabad.

Highlights of the camps:
Accommodation in spacious all weather proof luxury-tents.
Attached baths and toilets with running Hot & Cold water.
Multi cuisine vegetarian plain dining facilities offering international (European and Chinese) and regional cuisines (Garhwali, Punjabi, South India and other Indian cuisines).
Hot water bottles at sun down.
Guided visits to shrines.
First aid at camps with oxygen cylinders.
Well structured activity blocks at each of the campsites to take care of everyday
Aarti
Religious discourses
Yoga lessons
Prayers
Meditation
Massages based on Ayurveda & Spa Centre (extra cost)
Escorted walks to various events during Maha Kumbh 2013
Folk Dances every evening (on special request for groups on additional cost)
Safety Vault at reception for valuables
Tea lounge open 24 X 7

 

Itinerary:

We will package your ideal tour let us know your desires, length of stay, places to visit (apart from the Maha Kumbh) and number of people in your traveling party.

Just for the Maha Kumbh, we suggest the following 3 night / 4 day sample itinerary:

DAY 1 Arrive Allahabad
We will receive you as you arrive either at the train station or airport, and transfer you to the camp site. After freshening-up you will be briefed about the festival & schedule. Followed by lunch (Vegetarian meals throughout the stay). Post lunch visit near by Sadhu camps & discourses that are on at the time of your visit. Return to Camp site for bonfire and dinner. Overnight: Camp.

Day 2 & 3 Allahabad
After early breakfasts visit various camps & Akharas to meet sadhus, pilgrims from various cultures of India & photograph them. Meals shall all be at the camp. Go to sleep early to wake up at 3.00 AM to prepare for the processions that leave for the Royal Baths. A breath-taking sight.

After the Royal Procession, there is opportunity to take a holy dip at the confluence of the great rivers. Return to camp to relax & early sleep. Overnight: Camp.

Day 4 Departure Allahabad
Wakeup at leisure, or free to visit around the camp & later proceed to your waiting transport to drive you to your next destination.

- Continue Your Experience -

Costs:
Deluxe luxury Swiss cottage tent:
$ 170.00 per tent per night (single occupancy) including breakfast, lunch & dinner.
$ 185.00 per tent per night (double or twin) including breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Superior luxury Swiss cottage tent:
$ 230.00 per tent per night (single occupancy) including breakfast, lunch & dinner.
$ 250.00 per tent per night (double or twin) including breakfast, lunch & dinner.

An English speaking guide to accompany you around the Ghats & Sadhu camps: Additional $ 75.00 per day.

Optional activities (organized between 1400 Hrs - 1630 Hrs only), at extra cost:
Availability of therapies for massage based on Ayurveda by Ayurveda trained physicians and masseurs.
Reiki under the guidance of Reiki Master.

Registration: Please contact us for costing your particular tour.

Additional Information: Spiritual Journeys, Inc., 262 Upland Road, Cambridge, MA 02140. USA. E-mail: Ph: 508-358-4267.