Kumbha-Mela, the world's largest spiritual meeting
From 14 January until February 25, millions of pilgrims have visited the Sangam (union), place of confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is the Festival of Kumbha-mela, which is held every 12 years in four different holy places of the India. Writes Juan Carlos Ramchandani. Photography by the same author.
These cities are (also known as Alahabad) Prayaga, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. This year is being held in the city of Prayaga Maha Kumba-Lam.
The Kumbha-mela (Festival of the vessel) is meeting with character more faithful religious attracts worldwide, taking an average of 15 million visitors during the most auspicious days for taking a purificatorio bathroom. According to the Organizing Committee of the Mela, expected that 70 million pilgrims come from all over the India and other countries.
Main bathroom days are organized processions, which follows a rigorous order of Protocol. The Naga Babas or devotees of Lord Shiva, famous because they are always entirely naked, with buttered ash body and long tufts of hair. Are those who lead the procession, and singing with enthusiasm Har Har Mahadev they take bath in the icy waters of the river.
The exact dates for the Kumbha-mela are obtained through astrological calculations by observing the positions of Jupiter and the Sun. At Prayaga, the Festival is held during the months of January-February, when Jupiter is in Taurus and the Sun enters Capricorn. The Kumbha-mela lasts about a month and half, time that the Sun takes to cross a particular zodiac sign. This month there are various important days as Sankranti (when the Sun enters the next sign), Ekadashi (11 days of new moon), Amavasya (new moon).
Every six years before the Kumbha-mela is an Ardha-mela (half mela, or festival), which is only held at Prayaga and Haridwar.
These days the place of pilgrimage becomes temporarily in a big city, to be able to welcome the millions of pilgrims that arrive every day. Wealthy staying in tents with luxury facilities, and poor people sleep outdoors in the harsh winter of Uttar Pradesh (State where this festival is held).
Fortunately there are more modest accommodation within the reach of every pocket. Some religious organizations offer a meal and a place to sleep on the floor of the Pandal (large canvas tent). It's like a macro-convencion of Yogis and devotees of all schools and philosophies of Hinduism.
Many sadhus (Saints) come from places as far as forests and caves in the Himalayas. It is said that some of these sadhus have over a hundred years. The reason of attending the Kumbha-mela is listen to momentous messages of spiritual teachers and take bath in the Holy waters to get rid of sins committed in the material world.
History of the Kumbha-mela
The Devas (demigods) and the Asuras (demons) made a Pact to stir the ocean of milk and to obtain the Amrita (nectar of immortality). This Ocean appeared Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Vishnu with a vessel (Kumbha) containing the nectar of immortality. Dhanvantari handed out the contents of the Kumbha to four sages who set off in four different directions.
Demons pursued the wise for 12 celestial days (12 years of our time), and during the fight, drops of nectar fell in Haridwar, Prayaga, Ujjain, and Nasik, giving rise to the festival of Kumbha-mela, the world's largest spiritual meeting.
Juan Carlos Ramchandaniauthor of this article, had the opportunity to visit the Kumbha-Mela in 1989 and 2001. The next Kumbha-Mela will be in 2016, in the city of Ujjain, on the banks of the Shipra River.
He is priest hindu, master of yoga and author of 10 books and numerous articles.