Saturday February 24, 2018

Why Chaar Dham Yatra is a true test of every Hindu’s quest towards spiritual enlightenment

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yamunotri

By Rituparna Chakrobarty

Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, collectively called the Char Dham-the four abodes of god, are the places which every Hindu associates with his/her spiritual quest.

These four destinations symbolize the  three most important sects of Hinduism- Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. The Chaar Dham Yatra was started by Adi Shankrachyra about 1000 years ago.

According to the pilgrims the journey not only washes away all the sins one  incurs in life but also sets the soul on the path to salvation.

The origins of Char Dham Yatra are very ambiguous, as almost every Hindu myth and belief is connected to it.

 Yamunotri

According to the Hindu mythology, Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the God of death and Yamunotri is the place from where Yamuna originates. It is also the hermitage of the revered sage Asit Muni.

Yamunotri is famous for its thermal spring and glaciers. Champasar glacier also known as Yamunotri, is located at Kalind mountain at the height of 4421meters above sea level.

Magnificient Gangotri Temple

 Gangotri

Gangotri is the place of origin of holy river Ganga. It lies close to the holy rock or ‘Bhagirath shila’, where the King Bhagirath worshipped lord Shiva, to bring down Goddess Ganga from the heaven to earth in the form of river.

The Gangotri temple was built by emperor Amar Singh Thapa in about 18th century. The temple is located amidst a pleasant surrounding of deodar and pines. The shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3048mts.

Badrinath_Temple_1-640x360

Badrinath

Badrinath also has a historical significance because the temple was set up by Adi Shankarachrya in the ninth century. It is also known as Badrinarayan temple.  After seeking knowledge of Vedas he came to Badrinath and settled with his disciples there. The location with its overwhelming  natural beauty, is very peaceful and serene. Maha Vishnu is the presiding deity. At present it is located in the Chamoli district.

 

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Kedarnath

Kedarnath temple is one of the most important destination in Char Dham yatra. It is the worshipping place of Lord Shiva and is believed to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is situated near the Mandakini river (Ganga).

According to the temple priests the temple was founded in the 9th century by Adi shankarachrya, though the topic has remained a subject of debate between the Hindu priest  and scientist. According to the scientists the temple remained buried in glaciers for more than 400 years. They prove this by resorting to the marks of glaciers visible outside the temple building.

For its extreme climatic conditions the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshya Tritriya) to Karthik purnima (November).

Kedarnath tragedy

The flood in June 2013 affected the Kedarnath the most although somehow it did not cause any harm to the temple, which was miraculous. The surrounding premises and the other buildings in the market area were wiped out by the floods. The disaster caused a great loss to human life and property. Though the state and central government were quick to take necessary action for its rehabilitation, there is still a long way to go.

 

 

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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
  • 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.