Kumbh Mela is a religious festival of Hindus, in which devotees collect in epic numbers to bathe in a holy river to cleanse their sins. Billed as the “World’s largest human gathering for religious purposes”, the Kumbh Mela has people from all over the world and from all walks of life, attending it.
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The more commonly known Kumbh Melas are those which are celebrated four times over a course of twelve years. These include the Prayag Kumbh Mela, the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha and the Ujjain Simhastha. These are held by rotation at Prayagraj at the confluence (sangam) of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati) Haridwar (On the banks of the Ganges), Nashik (On the banks of the Godavari) and Ujjain (On the banks of the Shipra).
There are different types of Kumbh Mela, depending on its importance. And the dates are decided on the basis of a combination of zodiac positions of Jupiter, Sun and the Moon. The most auspicious is the Maha Kumbh that is celebrated once in 144 years. The last Maha Kumbh was celebrated in 2013 in Prayagraj (Then called Allahabad) and the next Maha Kumbh will now take place in 2157 in Prayagraj.
An Ardh Kumbh (Half Kumbh) Mela is held every sixth year at Haridwar and Prayagraj.
Ardh Kumbh 2019 will be held at Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj (Allahabad), Uttar Pradesh, from 15th January to 4rth March.
There are certain bathing dates that are considered to be very auspicious during the period of the Kumbh Mela, 2019. They are- Makar Sankranti, which falls on 15th January. (Pratham Shahi Snan or the First Holy bath). This day is very auspicious as Sun moves from Sagittarius to Capricorn and comes close to Shravana star.
Paush Purnima, which falls on 21st January. This Full Moon Day in the Magha month of the Hindu Lunar Calendar is considered very auspicious for taking a Holy Dip.
Mauni Amavasya, which falls on 4rth February. (Dwitiya Shahi Snan or the Second Holy bath) It is believed that fasting and bathing in the Holy Ganges on this day is very beneficial to the mind.
Basant Panchami, which falls on 10th February. (Tritiya Shahi Snan or the Third Holy bath). Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on this day and devotees wear yellow clothes after taking a dip in the holy river.
Maghi Purnima, which falls on 19th February. The day is very auspicious as it is believed that the Gods and Goddesses themselves come down from the heavens to take a dip in the holy rivers.
Maha Shivratri, which falls on 4rth March. Lord Shiva is worshipped on this day and it being the last day of the mela, taking a dip in the holy waters is considered very auspicious.
According to mythology, after the Sagar Manthan, when the Gods were carrying away the pot of nectar that had emerged from the churning of the sea, some drops from the pot fell in four places on the earth. It is here that the Kumbh Melas are held. ‘Kumbh’ means pitcher, ‘Mela’ means congregation of people.