The Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest and most important religious gatherings of India. The festival has begun today and this year over 12 crore people are expected to visit Prayagraj in Allahabad. This 5000-year-old tradition has largest worshippers of saints, sadhus, sadhvis, kalpvasis and pilgrims from all walks of life. The mela will extend up to 48 days, drawing millions of pilgrims from across the world, who take the holy dip at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers. It will be taking place till March 4, 2019, in Allahabad.

Significance:

As per the ancient legends, Lord Vishnu was travelling across the country with his Kumbh and during his journey, four drops of amrit fell on the earth. Today, those four places – Allahabad, Varanasi, Haridwar and Ujjain host the Kumbh Mela.

Kumbha Mela is one grand affair and has also been mentioned on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. For preparations, the union and state governments have allocated a massive budget of INR 2500 crore. The Union Tourism Ministry is also organising roadshows and taking part in events to raise awareness about this mega religious affair.

Allahabad is therefore known as the city of God. It’s the mythological history according to which, when Lord Brahma was done with creating the world, offered his first sacrifice here. Hence the justification of its ancient name Prayag means place of sacrifice. The place also holds a special significance according to the Hindu scriptures for holding the confluence of three of the most sacred rivers of India: Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati at Triveni Sangam, which becomes the nucleus of all celebrations of Kumbh Mela.

The usual Kumbha Mela is held after every three years, whereas the Ardha Kumbha Mela is held after every six years in Prayag and Haridwar. However, Purna Kumbha Mela takes place after every 12 years in one of those four places, based on planetary movements.

Rituals:

The most important ritual during Ardha Kumbha is snans, meaning auspicious bathing. Followers take a dip in the sacred waters on this auspicious day of new moon, as they believe this will absolve them and their ancestors of sin, thereby, ending the cycle of rebirth. After taking bath, pilgrims then do puja by the riverbank.

Following are the important dates and events of Kumbh Mela 2019:

1) January 15 (Tuesday) – Makar Sankranti (1st Shahihi Snan)

2) January 21 (Monday) – Paush Purnima

3) February 4 (Monday) – Mauni Amavasya (Main Royal Bath 2nd Shahi Snan)

4) February 10 (Sunday) – Basant Panchami (3rd Shahi Snan)

5) February 19 (Tuesday) – Maghi Poornima

6) March 4 (Monday) – Maha Shivratri