ArdhaKumbha at Prayag Raj 2019
India is land of festivals and festivals are celebrated in a huge, zeal and joyous manner with great warmth and passion. The Kumbh mela is held every three years and the location switches between four different locations – Prayag, Ujjain, Nasik and Haridwar. So, the mela returns to each location after a span of 12 years.
The exact dates of the mela are calculated according to the combination of the zodiac positions of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon. This year the mela will be held at Prayag from 15 January, Tuesday to 4 March, Monday.
Meaning of Prayag:
Pra+ yag=Prayag, Pra means very large and ‘ yag ‘ means yagya sacrificial fire. ‘Parakrishato Yajano abhudayatar tadev Parayagah ‘-thus its name was ‘ Prayag ‘. The place where there are many sacrificial fires.
References about the Kumbh
The Kumbh mela festival is around 2000 years old. The first written account of the mela was found in the account of the Chinese traveller Xuanzang, who visited India during the rule of king Harshavardhana.
Rig Veda has a mention about the significance of convergence of river Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Prayag or Sangam.
References of Kumbh can be found about the significance of this ritual in VarahaPurana and MatsyaPurana as well. There is a belief that the ashram of the learned Bharadvaja, where Lord Ram, Laxman and Sita lived at the time of their exile, was situated at Sangam. It is said that a number of saints including the great Shankaracharya and ChaitanyaMahaprabhu visited Sangam and observed the Kumbh Mela. The great Indian epics such the Ramayana and Mahabharata have mentioned that a yagna was conducted by Lord Brahma at Sangam.
Story behind Kumbh mela
The meaning of kumbh is pot, here the meaning is pot full of nectar. The story behind the mela goes back to the time when the gods used to reside on the earth. It is said that Sage Durvasa’s curse had weakened them and the demons (asuras) caused havoc in the world. Then Lord Brahma advised the Gods to churn out the nectar of immortality with the help of asuras (demons). But the asuras (demons) came to know that the gods have planned not to share the nectar with them so they chased them for 12 days during which the nectar fell at four locations where kumbh mela is held.
Holy dip at Sangam (Triveni)
The Sangam and Triveni are the same places where there is a confluence of Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. This rare confluence is world famous.Hindus believe that bathing in the sacred water during the Kumbh mela makes them eternally blessed by the divine. This is the only time and place in the world where a person can disburden his sins and achieve ‘Nirvana’ from the vicious cycle of birth and re birth according to Hindu mythologies. India is a place of seekers and everybody knowingly or unknowingly is seeking freedom/moksha/nirvana so the rituals and festivals are. For some,it is a day to celebrate and seek blessings for a good future and for some, festivals are a marked as a day to please the gods. Also, taking dips in the holy rivers washes away the sins and you become one step closer toemancipation.