By Devakinanda Ji
Triveni Sangam is the confluence of the Ganges (Ganga), Yamuna, and the Sarasvati River.
OṀ ṪRIVEṆISANGAMABHŨMYAI NAMAH: OṀ (AUM) -ṪRI-VEṆI-SAŃ-GA-MA-BHOO- MYAI—NA-MA-HA ॐ त्रिवेणिसङ्गमभूम्यै नमः (Ṫriveṇisangama: Confluence of three rivers)
Visiting places of pilgrimage, especially the important ones, at least once in a lifetime, has been prescribed as a sacred duty for every Hindu by the dharma śhāstrās and the purāṇās. One of the pilgrim centres, a visit to which has been considered extremely auspicious, is Triveṇi of Prayāga (modern Allahābād in Uttar Pradesh). It has been designated as Tīrtharāja (the king of pilgrimage centres). Since the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati merge here, the place is called Triveṇi. The actual confluence is known as Triveṇisangama and is 2.4 km (1.5 miles) from the city.
Religious rites strongly recommended to be performed here are: bath, tonsure of the head (sometimes recommended even for women as prāyaśchitta or expiation), the performance of śrāddha to ancestors and dāna (giving gifts). Veṇipradāna (offering two to four inches of their braid of hair into the confluence by married women) is another rite that is popular among the pilgrims even today.
A bath in the Triveṇi in the month of Māgha (generally in January), is considered extremely auspicious. During this period, many pilgrims assemble on the banks of the rivers and camp there, sometimes for three to four weeks. It is again during this month, once in every twelve years, that the famous Kumbhameḷā festival is held. It is the biggest religious festival in the world, drawing more than thirty million people including thousands of sādhus (religious mendicants and leaders) who all manage a dip in the rivers.
The Chitrakūta hill of Ramāyaṇa fame is situated at a distance of about 100 km (60 miles) from here. Tīrtham means that which is auspicious water. That may be the sanctified water offered by a priest in a temple or the river water.
Taking bath in sacred water is considered not only to wash away one's sins but also to gain upper tiers after death. This is a firm belief of every Hindu and also prescribed by the Hindu dharma śhāstrās and the purāṇās. Hence, our motherland, home of the confluence of three sacred rivers is 'Ṫriveṇi sańgama Bhūmi'.