Pilgrimage is a journey that takes place across the world, and many people see it as the holiest form of dedication to a religion. In Indian culture and tradition, there are many journeys a person can take, but none are as wide reaching as the Kumbh Mela. Being the largest gathering of faith in the world, waves of people join to wash themselves in the holy waters of sacred rivers in Indian tradition. The main rituals of the Kumbh Mela culminate in Prayagraj in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the crows joins their hands in collective prayer. The spirit of togetherness and value for Indian culture at the Mela has drawn tens of millions of visitors, making it a bustling place to be.
The Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times over the course of twelve years. In the Hindu mythology of Indian culture, there are water bodies that are regarded as holy, and taking a bath in them washes away the sins of yesterday. The Kumbh Mela travels from the Ganges, to the Shipra, to the Godavri, and executes its finale at the Prayagraj, where the rivers of the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati meet. The pilgrimage is accessible to everyone, which is reflected in its diverse attendees- saints, hermits, all seekers of spirituality, and ordinary practicers of Hinduism. The location and popularity of the Kumbh Mela increases its legitimacy and makes it an important occasion in Indian tradition, making it an event that can’t be missed.
The significance of the Kumbh Mela goes deep, and has mythological and astrological explanations. Our Indian culture explains the meaning of Kumbh as the presence of the flow of humanity, the path of enlightenment, and a confluence (or Sangam) of all the cultures in the universe. It is clear that the meaning of the Kumbh Mela has a universal application no matter your background. Life’s troubles can be put at ease when you are surrounded by millions of others serving the same cause as you. The story behind the significance of the Kumbh Mela involves the fight over the ‘nectar of immortality’. In Indian history and culture, gods and demons battled over this treasure. After Lord Vishnu secured the nectar, a few drops of it fell on four sacred rivers- the same rivers that are bathed in during the Mela. The timing of the Kumbh Mela depends on what constellation Jupiter enters to make sure that the universe is at its holiest. At the Kumbh Mela, there’s no doubt that the the stars will be in your favour!
The Indian customs at the Kumbh Mela include a wide variety. There is an ‘aarti’ or prayer taking place at the banks of the rivers, and a ‘snan’ or a bathing ritual that will rejuvenate a person according to Indian traditions. ‘Deep daan’ will remind you of a scene from Tangled, as people go about lighting beautiful lights in specific locations. The most important ritual is the ‘Triveni Sangam’-praying at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. All of these rituals act as a dedication to Indian culture and heritage, and help in keeping people connected to their identities.
In Indian history, it was under the rule of King Harshvardhana that the Kumbh Mela got widespread recognition outside India. The King used to hold festivities at Prayagraj and distribute his possessions. Indian culture and heritage also states that the important Prajapati Bramha performed an important ritual at Pyayagraj that created the universe, which makes the site of the Kumbh Mela even more important.
There is no doubt that the Kumbh Mela is a large event with dedicated attendees. It has received global coverage from international media, putting Indian history and culture in the spotlight. The 2013 even recorded a staggering 120 million pilgrims attending, and the number will only keep increasing.To fully experience Indian customs, a pilgrimage such as this is the ideal place. In addition, you’ll get in touch with your spiritual self and remind yourself of the things that matter. The aim of the Mela is to wash away the bad and welcome the good, and this is something every person needs once in a while. In the words of the organisers themselves, “Discover Kumbh. Discover India. Discover yourself.”