Kumbh Mela – Let us picture the pitcher

Kumbh Mela – Let us picture the pitcher
Kumbh or Kumbha is a Sanskrit word. Also referred to as Kalasha, it can
be translated into English to mean a Pitcher. Mela means a gathering, an occasion
where people churn out in large numbers.

Coincidentally, the Kumbh Mela, the largest recorded gathering of people
in the world ever for a religious purpose, has its origin in the episode of the
Samudra Manthan (to be translated into English as the Churning of the ocean of
milk, the Ksheera Sagara) to obtain the Kumbha (meaning the Urn) containing the Amruta (translated as the nectar of immortality) in one of the most popular medieval
puranas, the Bhagavata Purana, according to the medieval Hindu theology.

So let us try to churn the urn and picture the pitcher a bit more

The story goes thus…

A learned Muni (Sage), Durvasa Muni, hurt egoistically by the Devas (demi-Gods),
puts a Shraap (Curse) on the Devas that they would lose their strength.

The Devas scared out of their wits approach Lord Brahma (the God of
Creation) and Lord Shiva (the God of Destruction), who directs the demi-gods to
Lord Vishnu (the God of upkeep). It may be pertinent to mention here that
together, these three Gods form the Trimurti (the Triumvirate).

As advised, the Devas churn the Ksheera Sagara. With no strength due to
the shraap, they are left with no option but to enter into temporary pact with
the Asuras (the Demons) to work together with the understanding that the bounty
will be shared equally.

As soon as the Kumbha of Amruta is obtained, the Devas and the Asuras start fighting for it, when Lord Vishnu slyly slid away with the Urn of Elixir, but
carelessly spills drops of Amruta at four places on earth, Prayag (now known
as Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Trumbak (near Nashik).

The Kumbh Mela, celebrated in reverence to this episode, is observed four
times every twelve years, the location rotating between the four places of
alleged drop of the elixir. Incidentally, the four pilgrimage sites are located
on the banks of rivers having religious significance.

Allahabad is located on the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the
mythical river Saraswati, Haridwar on the banks of Ganga, Ujjain on the banks
of Shipra and Nashik on the banks of river Godavari.

With the Kumbh Mela being celebrated once every twelve years at each of
these holy sites, devotees get to witness the mega-event every three years.

The devotees flock to the event with belief that a plunge into the sacred
river, being a ritual bath at a pre-determined time and place, would cleanse their
souls leading to their salvation.

The location of the Kumbh Mela is decided by the position of the Sun,
Moon and Jupiter in the different zodiac signs.

  • When Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn
    during the Hindu month of Magha (correlating to the Gregorian calendar of January-February),
    the event is held at Allahabad.

  • When Jupiter is in Aquarius and Sun is in Aries during the Hindu month of
    Chaitra (March-April), it is held at Haridwar.

  • When Jupiter is in Leo and Sun is in Aries, or when all three, i.e.
    Jupiter, Sun and Moon are in Libra during the Hindu month of Vaisakha
    (April-May), it is held at Ujjain.

  • When Jupiter and Sun are in Leo during the Hindu month of Bhadraprada
    (August-September), the event is held at Nashik.

The little hardships for the devotees is dwarfed by the belief that it
would free them from the vicious earthly cycle of life and death and transport
them towards a heavenly realm, which knows no pain or suffering, an eternal
life free of sins.

It is said that the power of faith can part a river, or move a mountain.
It is this faith in the minds of the devotees who turn out in millions that
make them endure the hardships that come bundled up just for being a part of
this epic event.


After visiting the Kumbh Mela more than a century back in the year 1895,
Mark Twain had written:

“It is wonderful, the power of faith like that, that can make multitudes
upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation
or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries
without repining.”

“It is done in love, or it is done in fear, I do not know which it is. No
matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”

I am unraveling the mysteries of Kumbh Mela by participating in the #TheKumbhMelaExperience
activity at BlogAdda in association with Anugraha.

It's only fair to share...

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