Kumbh Mela, Ujjain

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Label : Top Attraction

Tags : Fairs & Festivals

Timings : Held once in 12 years

Time Required : 4 days

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Kumbh Mela, Ujjain Overview

The Kumbh Mela is one of the most extraordinary human gatherings on the planet. Held in India, the fair commemorates the legendary Samudra Manthan event in Hindu Mythology. The fair takes place only once in every twelve years for twelve days which are equivalent to the twelve years of the Hindu gods in the mortal world. The banks of river Ganga at Haridwar, river Godavari at Nashik, the confluence of river Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad and river Kshipra at Ujjain serve as the venues for this huge carnival.
The Kumbh is held every three years in one of the four cities, Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain. The last Kumbh Mela was held in Ujjain in 2016. The next Kumbh Mela will be held in Ujjain in 2028.

Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus and people from all over the world gather together at a place to bathe in a sacred river. From ancient times, four fairs are widely recognised as the Kumbh Melas: the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Allahabad Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha and the Ujjain Simhastha. These four fairs are held periodically at one of the four places by rotation. The main festival site is located on the banks of the river Ganga at Haridwar, Sarasvati at Allahabad; the Godavari at Nashik; and the Shipra at Ujjain. Bathing in these rivers is believed to clean people of all sins.
The Ujjain Kumbh Mela is a pompous and colourful event and is a treat for travellers. It is an enriching experience which immerses the attendees of the fair in the colours of spirituality and old world charm. One is never too young or too old to attend the Kumbh Mela. A ceremonial bath in these holy rivers is considered to be the essence and most significant ritual of this festival. It is believed that a holy dip in these rivers cleanses the soul of individuals and frees them from all their sins, as the rivers turn into the areas of sanctity during the favourable time of the Kumbh Mela.

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History of Kumbh Mela

Located in Malwa region of central India, Ujjain is an ancient city based on the bank of the Kshipra River. Considered to be one of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) by the Hindus, it is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna, Balarama and Sudama, received their education from Maharshi Sandipani.
The Ujjain Kumbh Mela first began in the 18th century inspired by the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Kumbh Mela. The 'Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh' is the earliest available text that mentions Ujjain as a sacred city. It does not talk about any fair at Ujjain although it does mention about the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar, Prayag and Trimbak. Just like the fairs at Prayag and Nashik, the Ujjain mela was not called a Kumbh Mela until the 19th century. The term Kumbh Mela was only used for the Haridwar fair.

Ujjain Kumbh Mela Dates

The Ujjain Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years in the city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The last Kumbh Mela at Ujjain was held in 2016 and the next one will take place after 2028. The fair is also known as Simhasth Mela in Hindi as it derives its name from the celebratory event of planet Jupiter (Brahaspati) entering in the Leo sun sign( Simha Rashi), according to Hindu astrology. It is one of the four Kumbha Melas. The main bathing ritual takes place on the full moon day in Vaisakha month (April-May) of the Hindu calendar. Ujjain is also home to Lord Mahakaleshwar, one of the 12 'jyotirlings' in the country.

Legend of Kumbh Mela

Once the gods (Devdas) decided to churn the sea (Samudra Manthan), as it contained the immense treasures of wealth and mortality. The most glorious treasure among them was the 'Amrit' or the nectar of immortality. Churning of the sea, however, required immense strength and the combined strength of all the gods was not enough to carry out the cumbersome task. Thus, the gods asked the Demons (Asuras) to join hands and help them fulfil the task. In return, the gods had promised the demons an equal share of the nectar. After 1000 long years of struggle, the Kumbh (pot) of nectar finally emerged out of the ocean. Fearing that drinking the nectar would turn the demons into immortal, the demigods took away the nectar pot and fled. According to the legend, the chase between the demons and gods stretched for twelve days, and during the chase, drops of the nectar dripped over Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik, which turned these cities into pilgrimage sites. This legend has been passed over from generations to generations and has led to the kick-start of the twelve-day festival of Kumbh Mela.

Celebrations of Kumbh Mela

Pilgrims from all corners of the country gather in the city of Ujjain for the holy fair. During the Kumbh Mela, non-vegetarian food is banned throughout the city. Some ancient delicacies are prepared for the pilgrims that include Dal Bafale, a dish similar to the famous Rajasthani dish Dal Baati. Saints with matted locks of hair, their bodies covered in ashes and tridents in hand can be seen roaming all around. The city is filled with all kinds of artists, from astrologers to palmists to snake-charmers, the list does not end. Saffron becomes the colour of the city and colourful flags and banners flow across all streets. The air is engulfed with the hymns of the saints chanting the prayer of river Ganges along with the rhythms of conch shells. Bands play and people dance in euphoria.

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