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Kumbh Mela (Devanagari: ) is a mass Hindu pilgrimage.

The Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place at four places (Prayag (Allahabad), Harid war, Ujjain, and Nashik) after every twelve years,[1] while the Ardh Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Prayag.[2] Over 45 days beginning in January 2007, more than 17 million Hindu pilgrims took part in the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Prayag, and on January 15, the most auspicious day of the festival of M akar Sankranti, more than 5 million participated.[3] The Maha Kumbh Mela ('Great ' Kumbh Mela) which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas' which is after every 144 years is also held at Allahabad [1][4][5]. The 2001, Maha Kumbh Mela was attende d by around 60 million people, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the w orld [6][7][8][9]. Contents [hide] y y y y y y y y y y y y 1 Timing 2 Etymology 3 History 4 The Ritual o 4.1 Kalpavsa Vrat 5 Recent Kumbh Mel as o 5.1 1894 o 5.2 2001 o 5.3 2003 o 5.4 2004 o 5.5 2007 5.5.1 Important bathin g dates o 5.6 2010 5.6.1 Bathing dates 6 Future Venues 7 Kumbh Mela in Media 8 G allery 9 See also 10 Further reading 11 References 12 External links

[edit] Timing Kumbha Mela is a mammoth fair where saints and devotees gather. Ku mbha Mela is celebrated at the aforesaid four places depending on the positions of planets and stars. According to Indian astrology, it is celebrated when the p lanet of B haspati (Jupiter) moves into the zodiac sign of Aquarius or Kumbha An d Sun enters Aries. When Jupiter (Guru) and Sun are in zodiac signLeo(Simha Rash i) it is celebrated in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik. When Sun is in zodiac sign Aries ( Mesha Rashi) it is celebrated at Haradwar When Jupiter is in zodiac sign Taurus (Vrishabha Rashi ) and Sun is in zodiac sign Capricorn (Makar Rashi) Kumbha Mela is celebrated at Prayag When Guru and Sun are in zodiac sign scorpio (Vrishchik Rashi) the Mela is celebrated at Ujjain. [10][11]. Each site's celebration date s are calculated in advance according to a special combination of zodiacal posit ions of Sun, Moon, and Jupiter [12] . [edit] Etymology Kumbha is a Sanskrit word for Pitcher (actually a roundish pot with no handles), sometimes referred to as the Kalasha, it is also a zodiac sign in Indian astrology for Aquarius, the sig n under which the festival is celebrated, while Mela means 'a gathering' or 'a m eet', or simply a fair. [edit] History Kurma Avatar of Vishnu, below Mount Mandara, with Vasuki wrapped around it, duri ng Samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk. ca 1870 painting. The obs ervance of Kumbh Mela dates back many centuries in Ancient India to the Vedic pe riod, where the river festivals first started getting organised. In Hindu mythol ogy, its origin is found in one of the popular creation myths and the Hindu theo ries on evolution, the Samudra manthan episode (Churning of the ocean of

milk), which finds mention in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, the Mahabhara ta, and the Ramayana [13]. The Gods had lost their strength, and to regain it, t hey thought of churning the Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk) for amrit (the nectar of immortality), this required them to make a temporary agreement wi th their arch enemies, the demons or Asuras, to work together with a promise of sharing the nectar equally thereafter [14]. However, when the Kumbha (urn) conta ining the amrita appeared, a fight ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights (eq uivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the po t of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, Lord Vishnu flew away with t he Kumbha of elixir, and that is when drops of amrita fell at four places on ear th: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik, and that is where the Kumbh Mela is obs erved every twelve years [15]. First written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang or Xuanzang (602 - 664 A. D.) who visited India in 629 -645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana [1 6][17][18] According to The Imperial Gazetteer of India, an outbreak of cholera occurred at the 1892 Mela at Haridwar, which lead to the rapid improvement of ar rangements by the authorities and the formation of Haridwar Improvement Society, and in 1903 about 400,000 people attended the fair [11]. During the 1954 Kumbh Mela stampede at Allahabad, around 500 people were killed, and scores were injur ed. Ten million people gathered at Haridwar for the Kumbh on April 14, 1998 [16] . See also: 1954 Kumbh Mela stampede The 1998 Kumbh Mela saw over 10 million pil grims visiting Hardwar, to take a dip in the holy river, Ganga [19]. In 2001, ar ound 1 million people from outside of India and from around the world participat ed in the 'Maha Kumbh Mela' at Prayag (Allahabad), with a total participation of approximately 60 million. The dates for this mela were special due to the plane tary positions that repeat only once in 144 years [20]. In 2007, over 60 million people are expected [21] to have attended the holy gathering. [edit] The Ritual

Naga Sadhu procession 1998 Kumbh Mela - Photo by Stefania Zamparelli Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, 1850s Kumbh Mela is attended by millions of people on a single day. The major event of the festival is a ritual bath at the banks of the rivers in each town. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assembl ies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men and women (monks, saints and sadhu s) attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to thi s. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with plenty of ashes and powder da bbed on their skin per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some called naga sanyasis may often be seen without any clothes even in severe winter, generally considered to live an extreme lifestyle. After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote: 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 wi thout hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resul tant 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, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.[22] [edit] Kalpavsa Vrat A unique feature of the Indian Bathing Festivals - Kumbha (Kumbh) M ela, Magha Mela, Etc. is that of the Kalpavsis - those undergoing the Kalpavsa Vra t, who present a scene of Vnaprasthshrama Dharma (retired forest life prescribed in the Vedas for couples). The Kalpavsis spend the Kumbha (Kumbh) Mela living an au stere and minimalistic life. Most of them stay in thatched huts, sleep on sandy river beds, listen to discourses, assimilate the essence of Dharma, and give alm s. Some of them bathe in the holy river thrice daily and eat only once. These ar e general guidelines, however, we understand that modern urban life is very dema nding and has become highly mechanical. Many of us may neither have the time nor the inclination to fulfil the extreme form of austerities performed by the Trad itional Kalpavsis (some of them take a vow at every single Kumbh (Kumbh) Mela, wh ich roughly falls once every three years). The idea is to get away from the ever yday mundane existence and observe and absorb the true meaning of life by the le arning from the religious gurus, interacting with other Kalpavsis, experiencing t he cultures, traditions, and heritage from every part of India at one single pla ce and maintaining a single minded devotion to the understanding of Absolute-Tru th.[23] [edit] Recent Kumbh Melas [edit] 1894 A procession of Akharas marching over a makeshift bridge over the Ganga river, K umbh Mela at Allahabad, 2001

According to Paramahansa Yogananda in his work the Autobiography of a Yogi, it w as on the Kumbha Mela in January 1894 at Prayag that his Guru Sri Yukteswar met Mahavatar Babaji for the first time.[24]. [edit] 2001 In 2001, Kumbhmela was hel d in Prayag. It is estimated that about 60 million people took a bath in the riv er Ganges on the occasion. It was extraordinary in terms of arrangement and disc ipline.[neutrality is disputed] [edit] 2003 When the Kumbh Mela was held in Nash ik, India, from July 27 to September 7, 2003, 39 pilgrims (28 women and 11 men) were trampled to death and 57 were injured (keeping in mind that the number of d evotees attending the fair was around 5 million). Devotees had gathered on the b anks of the Godavari river for the maha snaan or holy bath. Over 30,000 pilgrims were being held back by barricades in a narrow street leading to the Ramkund, a holy spot, so the sadhus could take the first ceremonial bath. Reportedly, a sa dhu threw some silver coins into the crowd and the subsequent scramble led to th e stampede.[25][26] [edit] 2004 The Simhastha Kumbh at Ujjain, in the central In dian state of Madhya Pradesh, is an event which devout Hindus await for 12 years at a time. The month-long congregation brings together millions of people from across India and abroad. Driven by faith and the quest for inner peace, they con verge on this holy city to be a part of a unique bathing festival. Braving the s corching sun of April-May, the devotees enjoy the company of seers and saints, l isten to religious discourses, witness the Ramlilas and Raslilas, visit the vari ous akharas, watch the grand processions of sadhus, and take holy dips in the Sipra river. They imbibe the spirit of the devotion-filled ambience where Lord Shiva i s omnipresent. The sea of humanity gets harmonized into a single entity, overcom ing all divisive thoughts. To them this is a lifetime experience. Bath Calendar The Ujjain Simhastha began with the first "shahi snan" (royal bath) on April 5, 2004, Chaitra Shukla Purnima, Monday, Vikrami Samvat 2061. It will end with the third shahi snan on May 4 corresponding to Vaishakh Shukla Purnima, Thursday, Vi krami Samvat 2061. In between, there would be the second shahi snan on April 22, 2004, Vaishakh Shukla Tritiya, Thursday, Vikrami Samvat 2061. Besides, the two parva snans would be on April 19, 2004, Vaishakh Krishna

Amavasya, Monday, Vikrami Samvat 2061 and on April 24, 2004, Vaishakh Shukla Pan chami, Saturday, Vikrami Samvat 2061. The Holy Dip in Sipra The significance of a bath in the Sipra can be gauged from a verse in the Skanda Purana. According t o it The holy bath of the Kumbh equals in piety to thousands of Kartik snans, hun dred Magh snans and crores of Narmada snans during the month of Vaishakh. The fr uits of Kumbh snan are equal to the fruits of thousands of Ashvamedh Yajna and l akhs of journeys around the earth. Elaborate arrangements have been made for the convenience of pilgrims. The History & Geography of Ujjain Ujjain, the city of M ahakal, previously known as Avanti, Kushsthali, Kanashringa, Bhaumvati, Padmavat i, Pratikalpa, Amaravati, Vishala, Avantika and Ujjayani is considered to be amo ng the holiest cities in India. The only south-facing idol of Mahakaleshwar, reg arded as the God of all the deities and demons alike, is situated at Ujjain. The Adi Purana describes Ujjain as the most sacred city on the earth. The city has been a seat of learning where all disciplines of knowledge have flourished since time immemorial. Situated along the banks of the Sipra, the city has been eulog ized by great poets like Vedavyasa and Kalidasa. Vikramaditya, the legendary emp eror, ruled the city with his famous Navratnas (nine jewels) including Kalidasa, Shanku, Dhanvantari, Betalbhatta, Varruchi, Varahmihir, Kshapdak, Ghatkarpar an d Amar Singh who epitomised different branches of knowledge. Ujjain is located o n the Tropic of Cancer, the prime meridian of India. The Vikram Samvatsar origin ated in this ancient city. According to Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, the re is something very striking about the consistency of Ujjains dominance in India n time accounting. The city was an important centre of astronomy in the Gupta per iod. Varahmihir, the renowned astronomer, had worked in Ujjain. In the 18th cent ury, Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur constructed the famous observatory at Ujjain t o encourage astronomical studies and to popularize astronomy amongst the people [edit] 2007 Every six years there is an Ardh Kumbh Mela at Prayag (also known as Allahabad). The actual dates are dependent on stellar constellations and were a nnounced as below: [edit] Important bathing dates

y y y y y 3 Jan (Paush Purnima) 14 Jan (Makar Sankranti) 19 Jan (Mauni Amavasya) 23 Jan (B asant Panchami) 2 Feb (Magh Purnima) [edit] 2010 Haridwar will host the Purna Kumbha mela from Makar Sankranti (14th January 2010) to Shakh Purnima Snan (28th April 2010) [edit] Bathing dates y y y y y y y y y y y 14 January 2010 (Thursday) - Makar Sankranti Snan - First Snan (translation: bat h) 15 January 2010 (Friday) - Mauni Amavasya and Surya Grahan (translation: Sola r Eclipse) - Second Snan 20 January 2010 (Wedesday) - Basant Panchmi Snan - Thir d snan 30 January 2010 (Saturday) - Magh Purnima Snan - Fourth Snan 12 February 2010 (Friday) - Maha Shivratri - Pratham Shahi Snan (translation: First Royal Ba th). 15 March 2010 (Monday) - Somvati Amavasya - Dvitya Shahi Snan (translation: Second Royal Bath). 16 March 2010 (Tuesday) - Navsatrambh Snan 24 March 2010 (W ednesday) - Ram Navmi - Fifth Snan 30 March 2010 (Tuesday) - Chaitra purnima Sna n 14 April 2010 (Wednesday) - Baisakhi - Pramukh Shahi Snan (translation: Main R oyal Bath). 28 April 2010 (Wednesday) - Shakh Purnima - Snan [edit] Future Venues y y y The Purna Kumbha Mela will again be held at Prayag in the year 2013 (January 27 to February 25) Nasik will host the Ardha Kumbha Mela in 2015 (August 15 to Sept ember 13) Ujjan Purna Kumbh Mela 2016 (Also Known as Simhasth @ Ujjain) (April 2 2 to May 21)

[edit] Kumbh Mela in Media Amrita Kumbher Sandhane, a 1982 Bengali feature film directed by Dilip Roy, documents the Kumbh Mela. Kumbha Mela has been theme for many a documentaries, including "Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth" (2001) by [27] , (2004), by Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day [28][29], Kumbh Mela: Songs o f the River (2004), by Nadeem Uddin[30], and Invocation, Kumbha Mela (2008) [31] Bollywood movies often jokingly refer to Kumbh Mela as a place where the charac ter lost his/her twin brother/sister. The most common script line being in Hindi "Hum bachpan me kumbh ke mele me kho gaye the". This is a common parody in rece nt times, being an effect of many movies using this lost-and-found device in the past.