Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K for Kumbh Mela

Welcome to the "Believe it or Not- That's Incredible India!" series. India is home to some of the most astonishing wonders in the world. The rich culture, heritage, food, scriptures, architectural marvels and scores of known and unknown facts come together to create this multicolored melange that is India. Throughout this month, read about the various believe it or not facts about India and know what goes into the making of this incredible country!


If there’s one congregation that stands out for being the most heavily attended, it would have to be the Kumbh Mela. The sheer number of people who visit ‘the Kumbh’ is mindboggling. We aren’t talking of a few thousand people, not even a few lakhs. Hold your breath, because we are talking of a  80-100 million people! That is the number of people who throng to this holy place every year in search of moksha, making it ‘Maha’ in every sense of the word! What’s amazing about the Kumbh is that it is so large that the congregation is even visible from space!

According to a legend, when the gods and demons churned the ocean in what is famously described as the ‘Samudra Manthan’, a pot of ‘nectar of immortality’ arose from it. To prevent the demons from partaking it, the divine eagle–Garuda, flew away with the pot. Apparently, a few drops of the nectar fell into four rivers bestowing them with sacredness.

The Kumbh is therefore held once every 12 years at the banks of these four holy rivers— The Ganges in Haridwar, the Shipra in Ujjain, the Godavari river in Nasik and Sangam (the confluence of Saraswati and Yamuna) in Allahabad. Taking a holy dip in these nectar-fortified rivers is said to cleanse people of their sins and liberate their souls from the cycle of re-birth.

Along with the veritable crowd of humanity, you will also rub  shoulders with meditating sadhus, yogis balancing themselves precariously on one foot, astrologers and soothsayers beckoning you to have your future read, and ‘aghoris’ covered in nothing but ash. You  will also see small tents selling a gazillion things from trinkets and medicinal herbs to conches and semi-precious stones.

All these sights coupled with the visuals of the glorious sun rising and setting  against  the backdrop of the vast river of people, make the Maha Kumbh ethereal and enchanting!

In the words of the great author, Mark Twain who once visited the Kumbh in 1895, “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of old and the weak, the young and the frail, enter without hesitation and complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining.”

The Maha Kumbh is truly an experience beyond your wildest imagination!

Believe it or not - That's Incredible India!

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