Updated: Mar 25
History of Kumbh Mela
The history of Kumbh Mela is related to the days when the Devtas and the Demons conjointly produced nectar of immortality as depicted by the legends. The Devtas and the demons agreed to complete the task together and decided to share the nectar of immorality in half. The Devtas and the demons then assembled on the shore of the milk ocean that lies in the celestial region of the cosmos. The churning of the milk ocean produced a deadly poison which Lord Shiva drank without being affected. After crossing through many hurdles years later, Dhanwantari appeared with the nectar of immortality in her hands.
The Devtas forcibly ceased the pot with its safety entrusted onto the four Gods - Brahaspati, Surya, Shani, and Chandra. Thereafter, the demons chased the Devtas for many days. During this time the drops of Kumbh dropped at 4 places Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. These four places are since then believed to have acquired mystical powers. The fight for the Kumbh i.e. the sacred pitcher between the Gods and demons continued for 12 divine days, which is considered to be as long as 12 years for humans.
The location of the festival keeps rotating between four pilgrimage sites situated on the banks of the holy rivers. These places are Haridwar on the Ganges in the Uttarakhand, Ujjain on the Shipra river in Madhya Pradesh, Nashik on the Godavari river in Maharashtra and Prayagraj at the confluence of three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in the Uttar Pradesh.
The Shahi Snaan (Bath)
Lakhs of pilgrims over a course of 48 days take bathe in the holy rivers. Devotees mainly sadhus, sadhvis, ascetics, pilgrims etc. from across the world take part in this Mela.
Shahi Snan, also called as Rajyogi snan refers to the holy bath taken by the saints and their disciples and the members of the Akhadas in the holy river during the prescribed time at the start of Khumb Mela. during the event of Shahi Snan, the ascetics were given priority and importance according to their seniority and they have their flags as their symbols . This tradition continues to this day. Shahi snan is the central highlight of Khumb Mela and the most important part of the celebrations. Only after the Shahi Snan, the common people are allowed to take bath.
Also, I’ve mentioned the importance of The snaan in my previous blog
“When I met Ganga”
I attended the First Kumbh mela of my life in Haridwar on the occasion of Maha Shivratri. I was present at Har ki Pauri where several saints visited to take a dip in the holy water of river Ganges. The Environment was divine. I also experienced the procession, where the saints showed up on their procession pomp and ceremony with elephants, and horses. During the procession, sadhus perform acrobatic skills and breathtaking display of their martial skills with the help of swords.
This distinctiveness of this year’s Kumbh mela was transgender saints belonging to the Kinnar Akhara took out a royal procession in the holy city and it was one of the special attractions of the event.
The procession started from Valmiki Chowk and Shahi snaan was taken by Kinnar akhara along with Juna akhara at Har ki Pauri.
The precious experience was when a Naga Baba fortunately or unfortunately stood in front of me and said:
“mein kyu aisa hun? Hum naga hai kyuki humne sansar ko tyaga hai, hamne moh maya ko tyag dia. Hamari aas hamare mahadev se hai. Har Har Mahadev!”
Meaning: why are we naked? It is because we have gave up on luxury, greed and expectations. We only expect to meet our god Shiva ‘Mahadev’.
I was amazed with the innocence and purity of this Naga baba.
I felt so blessed to experience the ambience as a whole. I don’t know, but I felt like I wasn’t me at that time. I was all into that spiritual and divine energy, enjoying the moments.
I was with my group of friends and we were the one who started dancing with the rhythm and everyone joined us after that. We weren’t the group of 5 but the group of thousands and lakhs.
That experience was just overwhelming. I also feel everyone must be a part of this spiritual action. Each and ever bit of happening has been carved in my memory and I returned to Mumbai with all the spiritual energy and the water from Ganga river so that I could take her blessings everyday even though I wouldn’t be present on her banks.
To ensure the event remain pandemic-proof, devotees will be required to furnish their negative reports before entering the mela, while senior citizens, pregnant women and children below 10 years of age are not allowed to attend the event.
But if this wouldn’t be the case every Kumbha mela experiences Lakhs of people being present.