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.
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:
of the camps:
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.
for the Maha Kumbh, we suggest the following 3 night / 4 day sample
2 & 3 Allahabad
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.
- Continue Your Experience -
luxury Swiss cottage tent:
An English speaking guide to accompany you around the Ghats & Sadhu camps: Additional $ 75.00 per day.
activities (organized between 1400 Hrs - 1630 Hrs only),
at extra cost:
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.