60 Suprising Facts About Kumbh Mela

Facts About Kumbh Mela: Kumbh Mela is a sacred confluence of the unique culture of Hinduism, connecting the trinity of monks, culture and society. So it has a very important place in the Indian subcontinent.

The fair is held at one place every twelve years and at different places every three years. These include Haridwar, Uttaranchal, Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh and Nashik, Maharashtra. The fair lasts for four months in which millions of devotees from across the country and the world bathe in the waters of the holy river and feel blessed.

But the saints have been given the right to bathe first by the gods. The atmosphere becomes sacred and devotional. Many devotees stay in tents until the fair lasts for four months. This period is called Kalpavas, so the one who lives there is called Kalpavasi.

60 Suprising Facts About Kumbh Mela

60+ Interesting Facts About Kumbh Mela

  • Another type of Kumbh is the Purna Kumbh Mela, which is held in Allahabad every 12 years.
  • The word ‘Kumbh’ literally translates to the pitcher that held the Nectar of Immortality.
  • Each of these locations become host to this Mela of spectacular grandeur once every 3 years.
  • Niranjani Akhara is considered the most educated Akhara, and it has more than 50 Mahamandleshwaras.
  • In the 2109 Prayagraj Kumbh, a separate Akhara for “Kinnars” (transgenders) was included for the first time.
  • The Kumbh Mela derives its origin from a legend; describing a war between gods and demons over possession of the elixir of life.
  • It’s believed that the Brahmin priests of Allahabad adapted the annual Magh Mela to Kumbh legend to increase the significance of Prayagraj.
  • In recent times, Naga Sadhus have been spotted using smartphones and other gazettes. They can often be spotted using WhatsApp, Facebook, and taking selfies.
  • With the evolution of the Kumbh Mela, many Naga Sadhus have turned into money-makers; as one would get blessings by them only after offering them some money.
  • Earlier, the cholera outbreaks and pandemics were normal in India, and the Kumbh Melas played a significant role in the spread of cholera outbreaks and pandemics.
  • To prevent the demons from seizing the Amrita (the elixir of eternal life), gods placed it in a Kumbha (a pot). The Kumbh Mela derives its name from this pot of nectar.

Amazing Facts About Kumbh Mela

  • According to several ancient Indian texts, the Magh Fair at Allahabad (now, Prayagraj) might be the oldest fair; although it was not called the Kumbh Mela at those time.
  • Besides the Maha Kumbh and Kumbh Melas, there is another fair called the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which takes place at Allahabad and Haridwar; every 6 years between the two Purna Kumbh Melas.
  • According to numerous ancient Indian sources, the Magh Fair at Allahabad (now known as Prayagraj) might be the oldest Kumbh Mela, although it was not called by this name at that time.
  • The Kumbh Mela is the largest public gathering and collective act of faith, anywhere in the world. The Mela draws tens of millions of pilgrims over the course of approximately 50 days.
  • According to the legend of Samudra Manthan (churning of the milk ocean), the reason behind the battle between gods and demons was the elixir or nectar, which was produced during Samudra Manthan.
  • Being the most sacred pilgrimage of Hinduism, and the venue of the highest social gathering on earth, the Kumbh Mela was inscribed on UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list in 2017.
  • Most of the Naga Sadhus of various Akharas have been typecast as chain smokers. However, Nirmal Akhara doesn’t give permission to smoke. It’s the only Akhara where you wouldn’t spot any saint smoking.
  • The Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years; because the battle between gods and demons went on for twelve days, and twelve days for the gods are equivalent to 12 years for humans.
  • Well, during the reign of the Emperor Harshavardhana, the area where the Kumbh Mela used to be held was known as Po-lo-ye-kia. Later, it was renamed as Allahabad, which was again renamed as Prayagraj in 2018.
  • Though the legend of Samudra Manthan is mentioned in several ancient texts, none of them mentions the spilling of Amrita (the elixir of eternal life) at four places. Neither do these texts mention the Kumbh Mela.

Historical Facts About Kumbh Mela

  • All Akharas invite women saints to get trained as Sadhvis (women saints) except the Avahan Akhara, which doesn’t allow women into their Akhara. However, in 2013, a separate Akhara for women was born called Pari Akhara.
  • The Mela created around 250,000 jobs in 2019, and was estimated to earn around Rs 1.2 Lakh crores. Mela also draws a lot of tourists from all over the world. Officials set up multiple temporary hospitals for the 2019 Mela.
  • One can only become a Naga Sadhu during the Kumbh Melas. The ritual for new members takes place during every Kumbh Mela. Thousands of people of different age groups attend the Kumbh Mela to take the Diksha to become Naga Sadhus.
  • Well, the rule doesn’t apply to you if you go on living for more than 144 years; as the Maha Kumbh occurs after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas i.e. every 144 years. So, a person may witness the Maha Kumbh Mela only once in his/her lifetime.
  • A British civil servant, Robert Montgomery Martin, described in his book about the 1858 Haridwar Kumbh Mela that the visitors from many races and religions including the Persian people, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians also preached at the Mela.
  • The holy bath or dip is the major event of Kumbh Mela. The festival sees devotees from all over the world take holy dips in the river Ganga to attain Moksha or salvation. The holy dip in the Ganga is believed to absolve themselves from all sins.
  • The fair at Haridwar is considered to be the original Kumbh Mela, which is held according to the astrological sign “Kumbha” (Aquarius). With the passage of time, fairs at the other three places, i.e., Nashik, Ujjain, and Prayagraj, were renamed as Kumbh Mela.
  • The Prayagraj Kumbh Mela attracts visitors from across the world; most of them spend the whole month of Magh (between January and February) in a quest for salvation through Yoga and prayers. The ritual of spending the whole Magh month at Prayagraj is called “Kalpvas.”
  • Since the inception of the Kumbh Melas, every Kumbh Mela has witnessed a rise in attendance and scale from the previous Mela. With more than 120 million people in attendance, the 2013 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad witnessed the greatest number of public gathering ever on earth.

Information About Kumbh Mela

  • The major ritual at the Kumbh Mela is bathing at the banks of the river. Although all the Kumbh venues are significant, bathing at the Sangam in Prayag, is considered the most sacred one. It’s believed that a dip in the holy water at the Kumbh Mela, washes away all your sins.
  • Although the Magh Mela of Allahabad has been mentioned in several Puranas, its association with the Kumbha myth is relatively recent. The first British reference of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad occurs in a report of 1868, which mentions the “Coomb Fair” to be held in January 1870.
  • A Maha Kumbh Mela is held after every 144 years, that is, after the completion of 12 Purna Kumbh Melas. So, you will only get one chance in your entire life to witness the mega visual spectacle of the Maha Kumbh Mela, and experience its unbridled volume of faith and spirituality.
  • Though it’s uncertain when the river-side Mela (festivals) came to be called the Kumbh Mela, the earliest mention of any type of Mela to be held at the current location of the Kumbh Mela is by Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang, a 7th century Chinese Buddhist Monk, scholar, and traveler) in 644 CE.
  • The Kumbh Melas have always been prone to stampedes. Since the start of the Kumbh Melas, several Kumbh Mela stampedes have made headlines including the deadliest stampede of the 1954 Allahabad Kumbh Mela, which left 800 people dead, and the 1820 Haridwar Kumbh Mela, which left 485 people dead.
  • The Mela's attendants also include several saintly men from various Hindu religions. The Nagas wear no clothes. The Kalpawasis take three bathes a day. The Urdhawavahurs imposed severe austerities on the body. All these holy men do religious rituals associated with their respective communities.
  • According to a legend, a divine carrier flew away with Kumbha (the pot of nectar). There are two stories over the divine carrier of Kumbha. According to one story, the carrier of the Kumbha is the divine physician Dhanavantari; while another story says that the carrier is Garuda, Indra or Mohini.
  • The first official document to mention the earliest start of the Kumbh Mela is by the 7th-century Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang. He mentioned that it was the Emperor Harshavardhana or Harsha who first started a Kumbh-like fair where half a million people had gathered at Prayag to bathe in the rivers.
  • The most interesting feature of the Kumbh Melas is various Akharas. An Akhara is a congregation of armed saints. These Akharas were evolved after the brutal treatment of Hindus by the Muslim Rulers. Some sources claim that it was Adi Shankara who developed the culture of Akharas at Allahabad in the 8th century.
  • Kumbh Mela has been extensively featured in several films and documentaries including Inside the Mahakumbh (2013) by the National Geographic Channel, Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth (2001) directed by Graham Day, Amrit: Nectar of Immortality (2012) directed by Jonas Scheu and Philipp Eyer, and many more.
  • The Kumbh Mela spans over four places in India- Haridwar on the Ganges River in Uttarakhand, Ujjain on the Shipra River in Madhya Pradesh, Nashik on the Godavari River in Maharashtra, and Prayagraj (previously known as Allahabad) at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Although the Kumbh Mela takes place at four places- Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain; the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela is considered the highest among all pilgrimages in Hinduism; as Prayag is the only confluence of 3 holiest rivers (Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati). The confluence of these three rivers is called Sangam or Triveni.

Mysterious Facts About Kumbh Mela

  • There are four different types of Kumbh Mela — Maha Kumbh Mela, Purna Kumbh Mela, Adrh Kumbh Mela, and Kumbh Mela. The holiest of them all is the Maha Kumbh Mela that is held once every 144 years in Allahabad. The Magh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad is considered to be the oldest version of Kumbh Mela according to the writings of Huien Tsang.
  • Special trains operate during the Kumbh Mela 750 to meet the pilgrims at Mela site. There is also a temporary road, or 56.20 kilometres. Approximately 25,800 metric tonnes of food grain are distributed among pilgrims. For a total of 162,000 vehicles, 36 parking slots are made across the city of Allahabad to accommodate incoming vehicles at the Mela.
  • Since the start of the Akhara culture, the armed saints of various Akharas have been fighting over their supremacy. Earlier, there were only four main Akharas, but due to the ideological differences, later these Akharas were divided into 13 main Akharas; mainly of Shaiv, Vaishnav, and Udasin sects. Often the news of a feud between the Akharas makes headlines.
  • Besides witnessing the largest public gathering on earth, the Triveni Sangam in Prayag also attracts thousands of migratory birds- the Siberian Gulls. These birds cover thousands of kilometers all the way from Siberia via Afghanistan, Mongolia and Tibet crossing high Himalayan mountains. These migratory birds start arriving here in October and fly back by the end of March.
  • According to one legend, the Kumbh Mela is held at four places; because, when the divine carrier, Garuda, flew away with Kumbha (the pot of nectar), the nectar was spilled over four places- Haridwar, Nashik, Ujjain, and Allahabad (now, Prayagraj). According to another legend, the divine carrier of the Kumbha, Dhanavantari, stopped at four places where the Kumbh Mela is celebrated.
  • The Kumbh Mela is the most extensively covered fair in the world by foreign media. Every time a Kumbh Mela occurs, there would come a guild of foreign media to cover the Mela. In 2010, the Haridwar Kumbh Mela was featured in CBS News Sunday Morning, a popular American morning show. The same year, BBC also released a report on Kumbh Mela, titled “Kumbh Mela ‘greatest show on earth.”
  • In 1892, an epidemic of cholera occurred in the Mela at Haridwar, which led to Haridwar Improvement Society being established to take care of the Mela's rapid development preparations. In 1903, about 400,000 people attended the Mela because of the Mela's Development. A stampede at Allahabad during Kumbh Mela in 1954 resulted in a death toll of around 500 people and many of injuries.
  • According to Hindu mythology, the four holy sites of Kumbh Mela are where drops of nectar or Amrit fell during a fight between the Gods and demons. The devotees hanker after this divine elixir of immortality during Kumbh Mela. It is believed that the four sacred sites turn into purifying nectar allowing devotees to cleanse their soul and end the cycle of birth and death as they bathe.
  • An estimated 150 million persons participated in the Mela in 2019. The Mela is so big you can see the Mela from space, literally. The Mela's epicentre known in Prayag as Kumbh Nagri is spread across an area of 58.03 sq. Kilometre. At a height of 817 km from Earth, the ISRO satellite clicked images of the Mela which clearly shows the festival's roads and camps, and even the gatherings of people.
  • The Kumbh Mela is notorious for being a venue where many people get separated from their family. Young siblings getting separated were once a recurring feature in the Bollywood movies. Almost 10 times a minute, the public address system at the Mela announces about the persons who have been separated from their families. However, modern technologies including cell phones and CCTVs are coming to the rescue of the lost ones.
  • As time went by more and more pilgrims took part in the Kumbh Mela. Close to 400,000 pilgrims attended the Mela in 1903. More than 500,000 people gathered for the Mela in 1954. The number of people rose to 10 million in 1998, and 40 million in 2001. In 2007 about 70 million people attended and in 2013 around 100 million people attended kumbh mela. 150 million people recently attended the Mela in 2019 making it the largest religious meeting in the world.
  • There is a specific astrological calculation behind every Kumbh Melas. When Jupiter enters the Aquarius constellation and the Sun moved into the Aries constellation, the Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar. When Jupiter moves into Leo, it’s Nashik Kumbh Mela. When Jupiter moves into Leo, along with the Sun moving into the Aries constellation, it’s Ujjain Kumbh Mela. When the Sun enters the Capricorn and Jupiter moves into Taurus, the Kumbh Mela is held at Prayagraj.
  • Naga Sadhus always remain the frontrunner when it comes to the most interesting attractions of the Kumbh Mela. Naga Sadhus are those who have relinquished all the material pleasures and have adapted to the astute ascetic life. These Naga Sadhus do not wear any clothes and remain completely naked even during the severe winters. Reportedly, many highly educated persons from engineering to management studies are relinquishing the material world to become a Naga Sadhu.
  • The arrival of the members of an akhara, or sect of sadhus, at the Maha Kumbh Mela venue is called the “Peshwai Procession.” Sadhus of various Akharas arrive at the Mela venue; sitting on gold and silver thrones atop elephants, on horse-driven chariots, and some on foot. The ash-smeared Naga Sadhus; blindly swinging gleaming swords, silver staffs, and fiery Trishuls, always remain the center of attraction at the Kumbh Mela. The royal processions of the akharas are regarded as landmark events at the Kumbh Mela.
  • During the Kumbh Mela, the ritual of Aarti is one of the most popular attractions. The gleaming procession of Aartis on the riverbanks is attended by millions of people on special festive days. The lamps held by the priests, who chant hymns with great fervor, represent the importance of Panchtatva (the five elements of nature i.e., Bhumi (earth), Jal (water), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), and Aakash (space)). During the procession of Aarti on the riverbanks, all these five elements are supposed to be present at one place.
  • The mela 'Kumbh' meaning actually means nectar. The origins of Kumbh Mela date back to the time when Gods (Devtas) and Demons (Asura) lived on earth. A curse had affected the devtas, which ultimately created fear and weakened them. Brahma (the creator) instructed them to churn the milky ocean to get the elixir of immortality and at the time of kumb mela, this very churning happens among the Hindu devotees until that day. The narrative, the myth, is complex, multilayered, and full of symbolism. There is, however, one word in the midst of the rich clutter that the Kumbh saga is, that firmly dictates the narrative: immortality. The entire festival revolves around the fear of death and the urge of man to taste the nectar of deathlessness.

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