Kumbh Mela 2013
The World’s Biggest Religious Festival
The Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering on earth is held every 12 years on the banks of the ‘Sangam’- the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. The Mela alternates between Nasik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar every three years.
Kumbh Mela 2013
The one celebrated at the Holy Sangam in Allahabad is the largest and holiest of them.
Maha Kumbh Mela is held in Allahabad every 12 years. It also takes place in three other holy places in India every 12 years— Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. The time for Kumbh Mela is judged by the astrological positions of Jupiter and the Sun. In Prayag (Allahabad) the Kumbh Mela takes place during January-February, when Jupiter is in Taurus and the Sun enters Capricorn. The Kumbh Mela in Prayag (Allahabad) is considered especially auspicious. This very interesting event draws about 15 million people and is the largest attended event in the world.
A huge temporary city is created for the millions of pilgrims that arrive for the most auspicious bathing days. Kumbh Mela is like a Yogi Convention, where yogis, sadhus (saints), holy people, and pilgrims come from all over India. Many sadhus come from various holy places, the most remote forests, and mountain caves in the Himalayas. The most famous are the Naga Babas, who are completely naked. They cover their bodies only with ash and wear their hair in dreadlocks.
It is said that if one bathes at the Sangam of the Ganges, Yamuna and underground Saraswati on one of the main bathing days during Kumbh Mela that one attains liberation. In the Vishnu Purana it says that one get a great benefit from bathing during Kumbh Mela than performing 1,000 Ashwamedha Yajnas (horse sacrifices) or circumambulating the earth 100,000 times. It is said that by bathing at Kumbh Mela that all a person’s sins are washed away and that 88 generations of ancestors are benefited.
The main bathing days are known as Shahi Snans or Royal Bathing Days. The main bathing day, when the most people come, is on the Mauni Amavasya day (the dark moon). The next main day or Shahi Snan is said to be on Vasant Panchami (fifth day of the new moon). Then on Bishmastami (eigth day of the new moon). For further details please check the When to Take Bath page.
Also from the:
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta 1975 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Visit to Sri Vrndavana
māgha-māsa lāgila, ebe yadi yāiye
makare prayāga-snāna kata dina pāiye
māgha-māsa lāgila—the month of Māgha has begun; ebe—now; yadi—if; yāiye—we go; makare—during the Makara-saṅkrānti; prayāga-snāna—bathing at Prayāga; kata dina—for a few days; pāiye—we shall get.
“It is now the beginning of the month of Māgha. If we go to Prayāga at this time, we shall have an opportunity to bathe for a few days during Makara-saṅkrānti.”
Bathing during the month of Māgha at Māgha-melā still takes place. This has been a very old melā (assembly) from time immemorial. It is said that the Lord in the form of Mohinī took a bucket of nectar and kept it at Prayāga. Consequently Māgha-melā has been observed, and there is an assembly of holy men there every year. Every twelfth year there is a Kumbha-melā, a great festival, and all the holy men from all over India assemble there. The brāhmaṇa wanted to take advantage of the Māgha-melā and bathe there.
Bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamunā near the fort at Allahabad, Prayāga, is mentioned in revealed scriptures:
māghe māsi gamiṣyanti
samyag dattaṁ ca yat-phalam
prayāge māgha-māse vai
tryahaṁ snātasya tat-phalam
“If one goes to Prayāga and bathes at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamunā in the month of Māgha, he attains the result of giving hundreds and thousands of cows in charity. Simply by bathing for three days there, he attains the results of such a pious activity.” Because of this, the Sanoḍiyā brāhmaṇa was very eager to go to Prayāga and bathe. Generally karmīs (fruitive laborers) take advantage of bathing there during the month of Māgha, thinking that they will be rewarded in the future. Those who are situated in devotional service do not very strictly follow this karma-kāṇḍīya process.