The Kumbh Mela is considered to be one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. It is held every 12 years on the banks of the ‘Sangam’ at the convergence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. It alternates between Nasik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar every three years. This holy gathering is expected to have 30 million devotees attending this month at Allahabad.
Kumbh is believed to be the melting point of cultures. It is symbolic of spiritual awakening for the devotees. It enlightens attendees in regards to sins, blessings, virtues and their beliefs. The convergence of the holy rivers, thus, reflects upon the nature of gathering at the festival itself. The flow of the rivers mirrors the movement of life, its rhythmic stream and occasional change in currents. The river Ganga flows through cities, forests and the mountains absorbing rich cultures from every place it passes. A dip in its waters, therefore, is considered to be highly enriching as its currents carry years of history and traditions with them. It brings to life the intersection of nature and mankind, their interdependence and similarities. The Kumbh Mela, thus, instils hope for new beginnings and belief towards God.
The Kumbh Mela has important astrological significance to it as well. The positioning of the stars at the beginning of this ritual now helps in determining the place and dates of the holy gathering. This is primarily done in four ways. Firstly, in the event of entrance of Jupiter in Aquarius and entrance of Sun in Aries, the Kumbh festival is held at Haridwar. Secondly, when the Sun enters Capricorn and Jupiter enters Taurus, it is held at Prayag. The Mela is held at Nasik on the banks of the river Godavari when Jupiter is seen to enter Leo. And lastly, for the Kumbh Mela to be held at Ujjain, Jupiter must enter Leo along with the entrance of the Sun in Aries.
The dip is believed to be transformational for these pious individuals. It is considered to bring them closer to attaining nirvana. It provides a sense of tranquillity and peace of mind. The millions of devotees gather around the bank of the river and listen enraptured to the tales recited about the brawl between the Gods and the demons, and the other episodes that stem from the story.
The Kumbh Mela is a magnificent convergence of the past with the present, bringing old beliefs, customs and traditions to life. It is in the Kumbh Mela that one gets to see a unique confluence of cultures, rituals, traditions, history as well as various casts and creeds. Although it being a Hindu pilgrimage of faith, people from all over the world are seen flocking to the Kumbh Mela to take a dip in the ice-cold waters of the holy rivers. The devotion of the various religious heads and individuals towards this ritual expounds their deep rooted faith. The dip taken in the ice cold water is an opportunity awaited by the attendees for four years. It is a true testimonial of spiritual awakening.