The Sacred Hindu Pilgrimage And The World’s Largest Act of Faith – Kumbh Mela in Haridwar 2010

The Kumbh Mela is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus. This Mela occurs at 4 different places in India; these are Ujjain, Allahabad, Nashik and Haridwar. This actually occurs 4 times in a period of 12 years.It is interesting to note that the, it is the largest human fair in the world. Millions of people including the ‘Naga Sadhus’ visit this mela. In Allahabad, Prayag is the site where the Mela is organized. The 3 holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati merge at Prayag. This is the reason why this place is considered to be extremely sacred by the Hindus.

Hindu pilgrims who come to the Maha Kumbh Mela bathes in the River Ganga. They believe that by doing this, they will be purged out of their sins and attain salvation. People sing devotional songs and also discuss religious topics at the Mela.In Haridwar, the place of the this,is where the River Ganga meets the plains on its descent from the Himalayan ranges.In Ujjain, the mela is organized on the banks of the River Ksipra. In Nashik, the banks of the River Godavari are flooded with pilgrims who come to the Kumbh Mela. Like all other Hindu festivals, it also has a legend associated with it. In fact, the legend dates back to the ages when the earth was just created and man was not even born!

The background of the Kumbh Mela is that during the creation of the earth the Gods suffered from a curse. So, in order to purge out their sins, they were supposed to consume divine nectar called ‘amrit’ by churning the ocean. The demons helped the Gods to procure ‘amrit’ but, they wanted half of it. After the nectar was procured, the Gods ran away with it without giving the demons their legitimate share. This initiated a battle between the two contesting parties. However, the demons managed to escape with the nectar. The Gods pursued them in the sky for 12 days and nights in order to retrieve the pot containing ‘amrit’. During this process, 4 drops of the ‘amrit’ fell on 4 different places on the earth. These places were Ujjain, Allahabad, Nashik and Haridwar.

Since time immemorial, it is believed (by the Hindus) that these places are extremely sacred. Astrologers say that during the 42 days long Kumbh Mela, the holy waters of these rives turn into ‘amrit’. So, anyone who takes holy dip will be relieved of his sins in this life. The Kumbh Mela is a perfect place to see the ‘Naga Babas’ (or the ‘Naga Sadhus’). They remain naked and their long hairs are tied into knots. Their bodies are smeared with ashes and they perform different types of yogic postures and ‘asana’. It is believed that they have positive healing powers. The ‘Naga Babas’ can live only on herbs and are not affected even when the temperature falls below 0 degree Celsius. They dwell in their own world and are completely emancipated from the vices of modern life.

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