Kumbha Mela 2010
January 11, 2010
2010 Kumbh/ Kumbha Mela (Kumbha or Kumbh means pot and Mela denotes fair) will be held at Haridwar from 14th January to 28th April. 14th January is marked as a very auspicious day as it is also the kite flying festival or Makar Sankranti.
This year, the Kumbha or Kumbh Mela is called Maha Kumbha because it will be celebrated after 12 years. There will be 11 bathing rituals during this 3 and half month period. There will be 8 Parv Snaan and 3 Shahi Snaan.
Haridwar is known as the gateway to the pilgrimage places of the northern hemisphere of India. Haridwar is known as a pious city. The word Hari denotes Lord Vishnu and Dwar means gateway or door. This is also Lord Shiva’s in-laws abode or Sasural in Hindi. Goddess Ganga follows here from Lord Shiva’s Jata or matted locks and purifies the souls of the devotees.
Saints, sages of various schools of thoughts and teachings gather during this time and leave only after the Kumbha Mela is over. Taking a dip during these 11 different dates and timings is considered highly auspicious and leads to the liberation of sins. Some also strongly believe that seeking blessings at this time along with bathing will end their cycle of rebirth and death.
The Haridwar locals are overwhelmed by the sight of the saintly people and invite them to their homes. These saints spend all their time in deep meditation and stay away from material bondages. They are known to acquire Siddhi because of their constant austeries. The householders at Haridwar take special care of these saints/sages and long to invite such holy men into their homes. They firmly believe that their positive vibrations will bring happiness, peace and prosperity into their lives. They cook special meals without thinking of their budget and feed thousands and thousands of these saintly men. They believe that such acts are a way of accumulating good Karmic deeds.
Kumbh Mela takes place in only four selected places in India. They are Prayag, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nasik. There is an interesting incident that leads to these locations as being marked so pious. During Samudra Manthan when the pot of Amrit or divine nector came out Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini to allure the Asuras or demon. (Read our previous posts to understand the reason behind and the aftermath of Samudra Manthan)
It was agreed that the Amrut would be divided equally between the Devas (Gods) and asuras (demons). But the King of demons was so mesmerized by the beauty of Mohini that he failed to see that Mohini had started offering the divine nectar to all the Devas first.
An asura took the form of a Deva, stood in line and drank the nectar. Lord Surya or Sun God and the Moon God or Chandramaji instantly pointed this out to Lord Vishnu that it was Rahu who had deceived them and drunk the nectar. Instantly, Lord Vishnu transformed himself to His glorious form and ordered his divine disc, the Sudarshan Chakra to cut off Rahu’s head. If the nectar reached his body, Rahu would then become immortal. The head was separated from the body which known as Ketu.
In this commotion, Garuda, half man and half bird, the divine vehicle or vahan of Lord Vishnu quickly flew away with the divine pot filled with nectar. The pot was heavy and at times, he rested on the way. The places where he relaxed and started his journey again, lead to the sprinkling of this divine nectar. It is said that 12 drops had fallen. 8 of them remained in the heavenly abode while 4 fell onto the earth. These four drops fell at these places- Prayag in Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nasik. This is why there are the holy spots where the Maha Kumbha Mela takes place every 12 years.
The photograph one is of Har Ki Pauri where the Maha Kumbh will take place. This area looks serene in these pictures but will be jam-packed with people in the coming months. It is estimated that over 5 crore people will be attending this site in the next 3 and half months. The second photograph is of the Goddess Ganga temple which is the main temple of this city. Ganga aarti held in the evenings at the ghat are spellbinding. People throng in hundreds to get the slightest heat from this aarti’s flame. A bit of this aarti’s blessing is enough to purify the soul. I feel very lucky to have had the priviledge to do so.
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