No doubt, India is full of incredible sights, stories and spots from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But, what is the most incredible about India? The Kumbh Mela – the confluence of religious faith, cosmic energy, ethereal power and divine love on earth. Also known as Magh Mela, this religious festival of India is believed to be as old as the universe itself. Haridwar, the venue of Kumbh Mela 2013, was flooded by the waves of 110 million of devotees. It is not just difficult but impossible to imagine the gigantic proportions of the event unless you make a visit in person. Kumbh Mela 2014 will be held from January 27 to February 25 at Prayag in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Indian Eagle does mine a few interesting facts of the Kumbh Festival for you.
The origin of Kumbh is associated with the mythical story of Samudra Manthan, a massive sea exploration on earth by the Devas and the Asuras in the divine era of India. A pitcher filled with amrita, the elixir of immortality, came out of the core of the sea during the exploration. When the Devas and the Asuras, driven by a desire to be blessed with immortality, got into a clash over the pitcher, four drops of amrita fell at Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik which became the venues of Kumbh Mela.
The most spectacular ceremony to behold during the festival is ritual bathing on the banks of the holy rivers – the Ganga in Haridwar, the Kshipra in Ujjain, the Godavari in Nashik, and the Sangam where the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati get merged in Allahabad. It is believed that each of these rivers turns into a pitcher of amrita (nectar) on different days of the festival – Makar Sankranti, Paush Purnima, Basant Panchami, Rath Saptami, Mauni Amavasy, and Bhisma Ekadeshi.
Such a large number of sadhus (hermits) visit Kumbh Mela that it won’t be unjust to call it the fair of sadhus. Several groups of sadhus from every nook and corner of India travel all the distance to take a holy dip into the sacred rivers during the festival. The Nagas who stay naked from head to toe, the Parivrajakas who do not speak a single word to pursue absolute silence, the Kalpavasis who take bath at three different times of the day, the Urdhwavahurs who believe in severe austerity, and the Shirshasins who meditate for long hours while standing on their heads.
If the clock is set back, we find a reference to the number of devotees at Prayag Kumbh Mela, in the writings of Hiuen Tsang, a historic traveler from China, who visited India during the regime of Harshavardhana in 640 AD. Hiuen Tsang mentioned in his chronicle that the Kumbh Festival had fetched a whopping 5 million footfalls to Prayag in 640AD when Indian population was around 6 crore.
Impressed with the colossal dimensions of the Kumbh Mela, Harvard University is looking to take on it as a case study. The researchers at Harvard University are interested in studying the economics behind the festival and analyzing the statistics of its evolution.
This religious fair is held over a sprawling area of 50.83 square kilometers. The premise of the Kumbh Mela is 200 times larger than the Vatican City of Rome, the smallest country in the world.
Mark Twin, a famous American writer, visited India during the Kumbh Mela in 1895. He was so overwhelmed to see the practice of austerity by millions of Indians including the young and the old, the strong and the frail, the rich and the poor traveling from remote corners of the country that he called it the wonderful power of a faith beyond imagination.
There is a great demand for mud and cow dung among the devotees during the festival. The sale of these natural commodities goes up with the festival reaching its peak. It is a golden opportunity for money-making individuals to make a quick buck by selling mud and cow dung at unreasonable prices.
Kumbh Mela has got many nicknames for its fame spread far and wide across the world. The most popular are the largest pilgrimage on earth, the world’s biggest fair, and the greatest show on earth.
Out of respect for the religious faith of millions in India, Indian Eagle books the cheapest flights from US and Canada to India for NRIs looking to take a holy bath during the Kumbh Festival. log on to IndianEagle.com for the lowest airfare, right now.