The Kumbh Mela

Origin of Kumbhmela

Held every 4th years, the Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest events for the Indian Hindu community. The exact origin of the Kumbh Mela is very hard to pinpoint.

The fair is a primitive one and the reason it is held can be traced back to the ancient episode of 'Sagar Manthan' .Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortal - Pot of Nectar - described in ancient Vedic scriptures known as the Puranas. Kumbha in Sanskrit language means 'pot or pitcher'. Mela means 'festival'. Thus Kumbh Mela literally means festival of the pot.

History of Kumbhmela

It is not exactly known since when did people begin to hold Kumbh Mela; it is widely known how this spectacle of faith has attracted the curiosity of foreigners across the world. The famous Chinese traveler Hiuen-Tsang was probably the first person to mention Kumbh Mela in his diary.

In the 8th century, the great Indian saint Shankara popularized the Kumbh Mela among the common people. With each passing year the fair began to be attended by more and more people.

By 1977, the number of pilgrims attending Kumbh Mela had grown to a record 15 million! By 1989, the attendance was approximately 29 million!! Today, more than 60 million people is said to attend the Maha Kumbh Mela, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

Five Types of Kumbh Melas

• Maha Kumbh Mela - occurring every 144 years - only in Allahabad.
• Purna Kumbh Mela - after every 12 years - last one took place in January 2001 in Allahabad.
• Ardh Kumbh - 6th year after Kumbh Mela.
• Kumbh Mela - every 3rd years, rotating through Prayag, Nasik, Haridwar and Ujjain.
• Magh Mela - Annual, held every year except years of Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh Mela Held in Magh (Jan-Feb); hence the name. Only in Allahabad.

The Site of the Observance Rotating Between Four Pilgrimages Places on Four Sacred Rivers

• Haridwar (Uttarakhand) on the Ganges River.
• Prayag,Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna.
• Nasik (Maharashtra) on the Godavari River.
• Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) on the Shipra River.

Timings: It is celebrated at different locations depending on the position of the planet of Brashpati (Jupiter), the sun and the moon.

Positions of the Planets and celebrated location

CITY Jupiter Sun Moon
Haridwar Aquarius Aries Sagittarius
Prayag (Allahabad) Taurus Capricorn Capricorn
Nasik Leo Cancer Cancer
Ujjain Leo Aries Aries