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Astounding Facts Related To The Holy Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years and between the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik, there is a difference of around 3 years

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Kumbh Mela is organized periodically at one of the four places on rotational basis. Wikimedia Commons
Kumbh Mela is organized periodically at one of the four places on rotational basis. Wikimedia Commons
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  • Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river
  • As per historic belief, bathing in holy rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins
  • The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years

“It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvellous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”

These were the words from Mark Twain, after visiting the Kumbh Mela in 1895.

Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela is recognized by the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river. Traditionally, four Melas are widely considered as the Kumbh Melas and are held in Haridwar, Nashik, Allahabad and Ujjain.

Also Read: 10 Facts To Know About The Historical Meenakshi Temple

These fairs are organized periodically at one of the following places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik district, and Ujjain. The main festival site is located on the banks of a river: the Ganga at Haridwar. It is the junction where the Ganga, the Yamuna, the invisible Sarasvati at Allahabad, the Godavari at Nashik and the Shipra at Ujjain meets. As per historic belief, bathing in these rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins.

During the Kumbh Mela, the gathering of Bhakts by the banks of our sacred Indian rivers and is the greatest celebration in Hindu culture. Wikimedia Commons
During the Kumbh Mela, the gathering of Bhakts by the banks of our sacred Indian rivers and is the greatest celebration in Hindu culture. Wikimedia Commons

Heritage of India

First written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of the Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsang or Xuanzang (602 – 664 A.D.) who visited India in 629 -645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana. Kumbh Mela is a glorious heritage of India.

There are various sadhus or saints visit the Mela. The list includes Nagas, who do not believe in wearing clothes; Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities; Parivrajakas, who have taken a pledge of silence; Shirshasins, who stand 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads; Kalpvasis, who take bath thrice a day.

The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years. Between the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik, there is a difference of around 3 years, whereas the fairs at Nashik and Ujjain are celebrated in the same year or one year apart.

Also Read: 6 Lesser-Known Facts About Kamakhya Devi Temple

Upcoming Kumbh

The belief that originates from mythological times is, during a waging war between the demigods and demons for the possession of elixir of eternal life, a few drops of it had fallen on to four places that are today known as Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. the venue for Kumbh Mela is decided depends upon what position the Sun, Moon, and Jupiter hold in that period in different zodiac signs.

As per historic belief, bathing in holy rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins. Wikimedia Commons
As per historic belief, bathing in holy rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins. Wikimedia Commons

Magh Mela – Allahabad 2018 (Mini Kumbh)

The Magh Mela is also known as the Mini Kumbh. The Magh Mela is one of the greatest annual religious fairs for Hindus. Hindu mythology believes it to be the origin of the Magh Mela the beginning of the Universe. As a vital occasion for Hindus, the Magh Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

The Magh Mela is actually the other of Kumbh Mela. Hence, it is also known as mini Kumbh Mela.

Ardh Kumbh Mela- Allahabad 2019

After every six years, Ardh Kumbh Mela is celebrated in the month of January-February when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and Sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magha. In the year 2019, beginning from 15th January to 04th March; all this will once again be the centre of attraction.

Also Read: 8 Facts About Padmanabhaswamy Temple You Probably Didn’t Know

Facts related to Kumbh Mela have been compiled so that one can get a better understanding of this mega event.

  1. During the Kumbh Mela, the gathering of Bhakts by the banks of our sacred Indian rivers and is the greatest celebration in Hindu culture. Millions of pilgrims visit the four holy locations of the Kumbh Mela in order to bathe in the holy rivers and perform significant rituals.
  2. The place of Kumbh Mela changes in every three years between the four pilgrimage sites, which are – Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. All these towns have significant temples. The Mela returns to each location every 12 years.
  3. The origin of the Kumbh Mela dates back to the age when Gods used to reside on earth. It is said that the curse of Durvasa Muni had weakened the gods and they began to lose their powers. The Asuras ran amok through the three worlds and there was chaos everywhere.
  4. It is widely believed that those who take holy dips at the sacred locations during Kumbh Mela are eternally blessed by the power of the Gods. The sacred bath provides spiritual and material happiness and moves them towards the path of salvation.

    The Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, which occurs in 144 years, recorded an estimated pilgrim’s strength of 100 million devotees. Wikimedia Commons
    The Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, which occurs in 144 years, recorded an estimated pilgrim’s strength of 100 million devotees. Wikimedia Commons
  5. The festival is billed as the “biggest gathering on Earth”; in 2001 more than 40 million gathered on the busiest of its 55 days. The 2001 Kumbh Mela was remarkably conspicuous due to the planetary positions at the time, a pattern that repeats only once every 144 years.67.
  6. The Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, which occurs in 144 years, recorded an estimated pilgrim’s strength of 100 million devotees. The festival was acclaimed as the “biggest gathering on Earth”. The Guinness Book of World Records recognised the event as one of “The Best Managed” events of all times.
  7. An estimated amount of business earnings in Kumbh Mela is 12,000 crore rupees. Employment opportunities created during Kumbh Mela is approximately 65,000.
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Drying Ganga Can Hinder India From Achieving Sustainable Development Goals

The lower the river flow, the more concentrated the pollutants become, making it difficult to wash them out.

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Ganga
Drying Ganga could stall food security and prevent achieving SDGs. Pixabay

Millions of people residing in the lower reaches of the Ganga basin in India may face food shortage in the next three decades if the much revered river continues to lose water due to factors that include unsustainable groundwater extraction, a study has claimed.

Researchers associated with the study added that low river flows could also have implications for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

But experts, not associated with the study, also pointed to the combined blow of surface and groundwater misuse that has beleaguered the Ganga river basin, sheltering around 10 per cent of the global population. Agricultural inefficiency is a chink in the chain, they say, when it comes to sustainable water use.

The modeling study forecasts that in the absence of interventions, groundwater contribution to the river’s water flow would continue diminishing in the summer for the next 30 years.

Ganga
A pile of garbage lies on the riverbank along the Ganges riverfront known as “Har ki Pauri,” the most sacred spot in the Hindu holy town of Haridwar where devotees throng. VOA

The analysis was conducted by Abhijit Mukherjee at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, Soumendra Nath Bhanja (formerly at IIT Kharagpur) and Yoshihide Wada from Austria’s IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) on the stretch of the river from Varanasi to the Bay of Bengal.

“The impacts of groundwater depletion on Ganga river flows are very complex. However, our study found that there is significant concern that ongoing groundwater pumping over the basin is unsustainable, leading to not only lowering groundwater levels but also reduction in river flows during summer time,” Wada told Mongabay-India.

This problem is more serious downstream of the Ganga river, Wada said.

Mukherjee, lead author of the study, said: “So far, in the last three decades we have seen the groundwater input to the river decline by 50 percent during summer. This decline could go up to 75 per cent compared to the scenario in the 1970s in the summer months.”

Although the modeling study doesn’t factor in climate change impacts, the authors argue that if they were to do so, the situation could be worse than predicted.

Ganga
River Ganga is one of the holiest, yet the most polluted river.

The Ganga’s 2,525 km watercourse is sustained by rainfall in the hinterlands of the Ganga basin, Himalayan glacial melt as also groundwater discharge. In summer (non-monsoon months), this groundwater contribution (baseflow) to the river can be 30 percent in some sections and can even swell up to 60 to 70 percent, informed Mukherjee.

“The combination of groundwater (around 70 percent) and river water (30 percent) availability actually runs the farming system that yields the food crops,” Mukherjee said.

The researchers assess that at present, surface water irrigation for cropping accounts for 27 percent of the total irrigation in the study area.

Hence, the dwindling of the Ganga would also severely affect water available for surface water irrigation, with potential decline in food production in the future.

“Our prediction shows that about 115 million people can be impacted due to insufficient food availability in the next few decades. In a status-quo scenario, this reduction would enhance in the future and there is a possibility that there would be reverse flow of the river water to groundwater. This is called stream flow capture,” Mukherjee said.

Ganga
NITI Aayog, CII partnered on sustainable development goals. Flickr

Apart from ongoing reduction in summer river flows heightening vulnerability of regional food production and water supply policy, Wada observed that low river flows also influence dilution of water pollution in the Ganga river, which is one of most contaminated transboundary rivers worldwide.

This is a “huge concern” for regional water supply and sanitation, he said, adding the issue could have implications for achieving United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets.

“South Asian countries are working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim towards improving water sanitation and reducing water scarcity, but decreasing summer river flows and increasing groundwater depletion will make only more difficult for regional policy makers to achieve the targets by 2030,” Wada elaborated.

The researchers also observed that low river flows influence dilution of water pollution in the Ganga river, which is one of most contaminated transboundary rivers worldwide.

Ganga
Children waiting for food from Akshaya Patra Foundation. Wikimedia

“The lower the river flow, the more concentrated the pollutants become, making it difficult to wash them out,” Mukherjee remarked.

Wada batted for more co-operation between India and Bangladesh, where the Ganga eventually flows, in regional water resources allocation.

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“Local excessive groundwater pumping over two countries is affecting the river flows of the entire basin. Regional policy makers from the two countries can cooperate for better monitoring and regulation of groundwater pumping and water use at larger,” Wada said.

He noted that it is vital to understand that both upstream and downstream regions need to share the burden of better water allocation policy. “Two countries need to work very closely to establish how to improve the situation. Water scarcity will get only worse under climate change, if the situation continues,” Wada reiterated. (IANS)