Kumbh Mela, Haridwar Overview

Haridwar in Uttarakhand is an important pilgrimage town for the Hindus. The place is a perfect escape from the cacophony of urban life and a beautiful amalgamation of old and new, replete with beauty, culture, history and spirituality. Haridwar is known as the ‘Abode of God’ because of its serenity and scenic beauty by the River Ganga. The most famous fair in the world - Kumbh Mela is celebrated here once in twelve years. It’s a sight that should never be missed.

Haridwar Kumbha Mela has gained International fame as "the world's most massive act of faith". The unflinching trust of millions of devotees is mind-boggling. This spectacle of faith has attracted the curiosity of foreigners as well. The pilgrims come from all walks of life, travelling long distances and tolerating many physical discomforts, just for one dip in the holy river. While some arrive on overcrowded trains, others come by helicopters and planes. But, what remains common is their tremendous faith. Nothing deters the faith of the pilgrims, who celebrate the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar in all pomp and glory. Fathoming the atmosphere of the celebration is difficult. It’s surreal. It’s magical!

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Haridwar Kumbh Mela Dates 2022

The next Maha Kumbha at Haridwar will be hosted in 2022 during March - April while the exact dates shall be worked out by the astrologers. Kumbh Mela is celebrated on the dates when the water of the sacred rivers turns into nectar. The exact dates are determined according to a combination of zodiac positions of the Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon. The Kumbh Mela is held once in every three years and returns to each of the four locations (Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nasik) after twelve years which is considered as Purna Kumbha. It is believed to be the most auspicious fair and a mass pilgrimage for the Hindu community of India.

Every sixth year after a Purna Kumbh Mela, an Ardh Kumbh Mela takes place, which is celebrated only at Haridwar and Allahabad. The Purna Kumbha Mela, one of the grandest religious fairs in the last few years, is a less boisterous and glamorous affair than its big brother, the Maha Kumbh Mela held at Prayag after 144 years.

Haridwar Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela at Haridwar

Things To Do at Kumbh Mela in Haridwar

Kumbh Mela in Haridwar extends for one and a half month on the banks of the holy river Ganga. The festival sees sadhus, swamis and devotees from all parts of India and across the globe. The divine celebration offers excellent tranquillity and contentment to all devotees. The festival is celebrated with great passion and enthusiasm and a holy dip in the river Ganga is considered a way of attaining salvation.

Peshwai Procession: One of the major rituals of the festival is the ‘Peshwai Procession’ which is a royal procession of the Naga sadhus. The procession is a breathtaking display of acrobatic and martial skills of the sadhus.

Darshan: Another important event of Haridwar Kumbh Mela is the Darshan, which allows members of the Hindu public to interact with the Sadhus visually. In the surreal environment, one can hear devotional songs, Veda mantras and prayers and preaches of saints and sages.

Ganga Aarti: The celebration is incomplete without the famous Ganga Aarti. Every evening, as the dusk descends, it’s time for the “aarti” to be performed at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat. The aarti is a powerful spiritual ritual of light and sound that uses fire as an offering. The magnificent event witnesses chanting of the mantras and prayers with the brass lamps of fire. It’s a spiritual circus of clanging bells, pandits, devotees and flowers and flames!

Har ki Pauri during Haridwar Kumbh Mela
The crowd at Har ki Pauri during Haridwar Kumbh Mela

Last Purna Kumbh and Ardh Kumbha in Haridwar: Haridwar hosted the previous Purna Kumbh Mela in 2010. Millions of Hindu pilgrims were in attendance. Many of them participated in the Chaitra Purnima Snan (holy bath) at the Har ki Pauri. ISRO took satellite pictures of the fair so that they could improve the conduct of the festival while the BBC reported an audio and video report on titled "Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth" which explored the philosophies, beliefs and traditions of Hinduism. A popular American morning show "CBS News Sunday Morning" gave extensive coverage to Haridwar's Kumbh Mela. The last Ardh Kumbh Mela was celebrated from January 2016 to April 2016. It witnessed a rush of pilgrims from across the country, with devotees immersing themselves into the icy waters of the Ganga to absolve their sins. Air-borne drones were put in place to oversee security at the Ardh Kumbh Mela.

Significance and History of Haridwar Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is the most significant religious carnival and congregation of pilgrims in the world. It is celebrated at four places – Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. Legend tells a tale from the bygone days when the demigods (devas) used to reside on earth. Sage Durvasa’s curse had weakened them, and the demons (asuras) caused havoc in the world. It was only then that Lord Brahma asked the devas to churn out the nectar of immortality with the help of asuras. The demons, after learning that the nectar will not be shared with them, went after the demigods for 12 days and 12 nights. During the chase, some of the nectar fell at the four places mentioned above which ultimately came to be revered as holy places in the power of which millions of Hindus repose their faith.

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