Kumbh Mela, arguably the largest religious congregation in the world, is generally characterized by a sea of devotees and their vigorous activity — of pilgrims taking a dip in the sacred river, of cultural events and fairs, of spiritual discourses, and of the Aarti rituals at holy ghats (with huge fiery diyas amid Vedic chanting). This grand festival/ fair is celebrated once every 12 years in a rotation at the four holy sites of Haridwar, Prayagraj, Ujjain, and Nasik. 2021 marks Haridwar’s turn of hosting Kumbh Mela, and the Uttarakhand state government had plans of making this event a grand affair. However, COVID-19 pandemic got in the way of a grand Haridwar Kumbh Mela 2021.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawathas announced last week that the number of pilgrims attending this religious fair would be capped, given the irrepressible spread of Coronavirus. Although the size of Haridwar Kumbh Mela 2021 will depend on the COVID-19 situation in the country at that time, it has been decided that e-passes would be issued to pilgrims as a means of keeping the numbers in check. This is the first time in the long history of Kumbh Mela that passes would be required to gain admission to the Mela.
The CM is quoted as saying, “A numerically restricted Kumbh makes it necessary that devotees are allowed entry into the Kumbh fair on the basis of passes.” Regarding the progress on Haridwar Kumbh arrangements, he said, “The works which are permanent and those which are temporary in nature are being carried out on a large scale at Haridwar.” Apparently, all the buildings in the Kumbh region will be painted saffron, and the walls will be adorned with spiritual and mythological paintings.
Kumbh Mela holds deep religious and spiritual significance for the Hindus and hence sees millions of pilgrims in attendance. Several tourists interested in the country’s rich cultural heritage book flights to India to partake in this duodecennial fair. Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport to reach Haridwar city.
Haridwar Kumbh Mela 2021 will begin on 14 January on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti, and the festivities will end with the fourth Shahi Snan on 27 April. The dates of Kumbha Mela, determined according to the Vikram Samvat calendar, are as follows:
Shahi Snan (royal bath) dates:
March 11: First Shahi Snan on Maha Shivratri
April 12: Second Shahi Snan on Somvati Amamvasya
April 14: Third Shahi Snan on Baisakhi
April 27: Fourth Shahi Snan on Chaitra Purnima
Other important holy bathing dates:
January 14: Makar Sankranti
February 11: Mauni Amavasya
February 16: Basant Panchami
February 27: Magh Poornima
April 21: Ram Navami