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Kumbh Mela 2019, Allahabad Overview

The Kumbh Mela, widely regarded as the largest gathering of pilgrims in the world, is a very important event for Hinduism. Held in at four different areas, a great number of Hindus arrive at the fair to bathe in the holy rivers, a ritual meant to cleans them of sin and bring purity to their lives. The Kumbh Mela is held every three years in a rotation between Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik, and Ujjain, thus occurring once every twelve years at each destination. The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad is held at Prayaga, the site of the convergence of the three holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati, known as Triveni Sangam. Ardh Kumbh Melas are organised every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad.

Kumbh Mela in Allahabad
Kumbh Mela in Allahabad
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During the fair, the temples of the area are fully lit up and decorated in honour of the sacred celebration. Spread across 55 days, the glorious Kumbh Mela involves the sacred tradition of bathing at the Triveni Sangam, accompanied by devotional singing, religious discussion, and mass feeding of the poor and the holy. This fair is also primarily attended to view the various religious and traditional aspects of the different sects of Hinduism. Many sadhus and saints of Hinduism are present here, some of whom are only visible to the public during this auspicious event. Devout sects like the Naga Sadhus, who never wear any clothes and are always smeared in ash; Urdhwavahurs, non-indulgent in physical pleasures; Parivajakas, having taken a vow of silence; Kalpawasis, who bathe three times a day, and Shirshasins, who stand for all 24 hours and meditate, transform the location to a truly holly affair, resembling a land from another realm.The respectful observation of the religious diversity is known as 'Darshan', considered an essential ritual of this festival.

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Allahabad Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 Dates

The 2019 Allahabad Ardh Kumbh Mela is set to start on January 15, 2019, the day of Paush Purnima, and end on March 4, 2019, the day of Maha Shivratri. This will be held at the traditional site of the Triveni Sangam in Prayag. The Prayagraj Mela Authority has been set up to oversee the mela, and the Uttar Pradesh government has allocated around 2,500 crore INR for this event. The bathing schedule for the fair is as follows:

15 January 2019Makar Sankranti
21 January 2019
Paush Purnima
04 February 2019
Mauni Amavasya
10 February 2019
Basant Panchami
19 February 2019
Maghi Poornima
04 March 2019Maha Shivratri

Popularity of the Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela bathing Ghat
Kumbh Mela Bathing Ghat
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Termed the 'World's most massive act of faith', the attendance and participation in the Kumbh Mela are considered essential by passionate Hindus, and every mela sees an average of 8 crore pilgrims over the two-month period of the event. The 2013 Allahabad Kumbh Mela, considered a Maha Kumbh Mela, had a record attendance of 3 crore devotees on a single day, the day of Mauni Amavasya. This is due to the fact that a Maha Kumbh Mela occurs once every 144 years. In 2017, Kumbh Mela was added to UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Despite being one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world, there have been many stampedes at the various Kumbh Melas due to massive crowds that attend.

Kumbh Mela Legend

Ganga Aart Ritual during Kumbh Mela
Ganga Aart Ritual during Kumbh Mela
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As per Hindu Mythology, Amrita is considered the potion of immortality, made during the churning of the ocean known as Samudra Manthan. The divine creator Lord Brahma instructed the demigods, or Devas, to churn the Amrita with the help of the demons, or Asuras. When the Asuras got wind of the plan of the Devas where they wouldn't share it with them, they chased the Devas for twelve days. The four sites of Kumbh Mela are believed to be the locations where drops of Amrita fell from its Kumbh or pot while it was carried by a Deva, to protect it from the hands of the Asuras. The four drops fell onto Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain, giving these sites mystical properties. The four holiest rivers flow through these areas, forming the site of the bathing ritual. It is believed that during the dates of the Kumbh Mela, the waters of the Sangam turn into Amrita, possessing divine properties which help the pilgrims come closer to attaining salvation.

Deciding the Venue and Dates of the Kumbh Mela

Pilgrims at Allahabad
Pilgrims at Allahabad
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The occurrence of this festival is based on the positions of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter as per Hindu Astrology. The Allahabad Kumbh Mela is organised when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magh, around the period of January-February. The Haridwar Kumbh Mela happens when Jupiter is in Aquarius and the Sun is in Aries during the Hindu month of Chaitra, around the period of March-April. The Ujjain Kumbh Mela occurs when Jupiter is in Leo and the Sun is in Aries, or when all three are in Libra during the Hindu month of Vaisakha, around the period of April-May. The Nashik Kumbh Mela takes place when the Sun and Jupiter are in Leo during the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, around the period of August-September.

History of Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela in 2001
Kumbh Mela in 2001
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The earliest record of Kumbh Mela can be traced back to the reign of King Harshavardhana, about 2000 years ago. This tradition has withstood the test of time, even during the rule of the various invaders of India. It was considered a common meeting ground for the different sects of Hinduism practised across the land. Hiuen Tsang of China, one of the first explorers to visit India, makes a mention of the Kumbh Mela in his writings, describing an eyewitness account of around half a million people gathering in Allahabad during the Hindu month of Magh (January - February) for this holy observance. Subsequent popularisation of the snan and darshan rituals through various Hindu saints gradually increased the number of attendees, making it the largest spiritual festival in the history of the world.

Stay Near Kumbh Mela 2019

The Kumbh Mela sees devotees setting up temporary shelters like tents on the fair grounds itself for the duration of the event. It is important to book your stay in advance, as the hotels of Allahabad get heavily maxed out due to the large number of devotees that arrive for the two-month period. Schools of Allahabad remain closed during this period and are converted to temporary shelter homes, health care centres and other important service centres in order to ensure that Mela proceeds smoothly and without any major obstacles.

Tips For Visiting Kumbh Mela 2019

  • As this is one of the largest festivals in the world, there have been many stampedes in the past resulting in injuries and deaths. One must exercise caution so as to not be dragged around by the mob.
  • During the 6 most auspicious Snan dates of the mela, public transport is completely shut down in the city, and no vehicles are allowed anywhere. One will have to arrive at the destination on foot.
  • With the large and diverse population of Hindus, it is important to be respectful of the traditions and beliefs of everyone.
  • If you get separated from your group, go to the 'lost and found' camps set up around the venue for further assistance.

How To Reach Kumbh Mela 2019

During the Kumbh Mela, temporary railway stations are created around the fairgrounds to facilitate the entry of the massive number of pilgrims that come to Allahabad for this holy event, with Prayag Ghat station being within walking distance of the holy Sangam. The Allahabad Airport, which only facilitates one flight a day from Delhi during the rest of the year, sees many airline services like Spice Jet and Jet Airways operating multiple flights for the mela. Devotees are also known to arrive by charter flights. Temporary roads are created within the grounds for ease of travel.

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Q. I want to visit kumbh mela. How much is the cost of stay in tent ? Is the food served, what will be the cost ? Since the climate is cold , can I get blankets... ? During bath where can I keep my belongings ? Is there any online reservation for visit. This is my first visit. So plz advise. Thank you. Bhagat (Mumbai)

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