Ardha Kumbh Mela or Ardh Kumbh Mela, the mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river, is all set to starts from 15th January 2019 in Prayag, Allahabad. Held after every six years, this is the biggest and one of the most important religious gatherings in India. Also known as Prayagraj Ardh Kumbh Mela or Prayag Ardh Kumbh Mela, Ardh Kumbh Mela attracts devotees from across the world in order to wash off their sins by taking a holy at the confluence of the three holy rivers- the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. If you are one of them, check all the details about Ardh Kumbh Mela, 2019 here.
The Kumbh Mela or Maha Kumbh Mela, is held once in 12 years at four holy places by rotation, they are Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Ujjain. It has been mentioned on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. However, an Ardh Kumbh Mela, mini versions of the event, is held every six years at only two places, Haridwar and Allahabad. The upcoming Kumbh 2019 edition is an Ardh Kumbh Mela and is all set to commence on the holy banks of Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj, earlier called as Allahabad.
The mystical Ardh Kumbh Mela is going to be held from 15th January to 4th March 2019, in the city of Prayagraj or Allahabad. According to astrological calculations, the Ardh Kumbh Mela happens at Allahabad when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus, and the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magha.
What Mythology Says?
In Sanskrit, Kumbh means pitcher or pot, and a pitcher does in fact play an important role in the origin of this festival. According to Hindu mythology, the gods were cursed and began to lose their powers. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, they churned the ocean of milk for Amrit in order to regain their power. Since the gods were few, they were forced to seek help from the demons. After twelve days of churning, they managed to create a pitcher of Amrit, but a fight soon broke out between the gods and the demons. To seize the Amrit from the demons, Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu, took the pot and flew away. During his flight, he spilled accidentally few drops of nectar on earth at 4 places namely, Haridwar, Ujjain, Prayag (Allahabad), and Nashik.
The Kumbh Mela is said to have originated after this incident and is held ever since with a lot of zeal. It is believed that, during the time of the mela, the water of the river turns into holy nectar so the people who bathe in the river during the auspicious dates are blessed by the Gods themselves and all their sins would be washed away.
The most important ritual during Ardha Kumbh is Shahi Snan or Royal Bath that is taken by the Saints of different Akharas in the sacred river before any other Hindu pilgrims. Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 is a 48 days long celebration, marked with three holy dips or shahi snans. The first royal bath (shahi snan) of the Ardh Kumbh Mela will be observed on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti (15th January), the second snan will be on Paush Poornima (21st January) and the last bath will be observed on the festival day of Maha Shivratri on 4th March 2019. Hindus believe that people who bathe in the river during the auspicious dates are blessed by the Gods themselves and all their sins would be washed away. Mauni Amavasya on 4th February, Basant Panchami on 10th February and Maghi Purnima on 19th February are the other important days for the holy both.
Around 3 AM on the day of Shahi Snan, the different groups of sadhus move in procession towards the river to bathe while the Nagas usually lead the procession. Pilgrims are allowed to take a bath after sadhus during the days of royal baths. After bathing, the pilgrims wear fresh clothes and proceed to worship by the river bank.
- Peshwai is an important festivity and is a vital part of the Kumbh Mela. Peshwai denotes the grand procession carried out to mark the beginning of the Kumbh Mela by welcoming people from all around the world. These grand processions are led by saints from various Akharas like Nagas, Urdhwavahurs, Kalpvasis, Shirshasinse, Parivajakash, etc. Amongst the several Akharas and saints, Shaivanti Naga Sadhus catches the eyes the most. These saints remain naked with ash smeared all over their body and have long matted hair. They are mostly quiet and are amongst the first to take the Royal Bath.
- Satsangs are another important part of the Ardh Kumbh Mela. During the mela, there are a lot of ashrams and halls where people can offer prayers and hear the speeches of Sadhus in order to gain spiritual enlightenment. One can also participate in other activities like religious discussions, devotional songs organized at the mela.
- About five cultural pandals will be erected in Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 to showcase a range of musical performances and folk dances. Of all the pandals, Ganga pandal will be the main spot, where all the main events will be hosted. Pravachan pandal and about four convention centers hosting spiritual and cultural events will have modern facilities.
- Pilgrims can witness a Laser Light & Sound Show at Prayagraj Fort Wall in Allahabad during the Ardh Kumbh Mela in 2019. This initiative is introduced by UP Government in order to improve tourism in the city.
- During the mela, tourists can also take a cruise ride on Yamuna River near Sangam Ghat. This 20 km cruise trip will begin from Sujawan Ghat to Rail Bridge (Naini Side) and then from Boat Club Ghat to Saraswati Ghat and finish at Kila Ghat. CN Kasturba and SL Kamla will be two cruise ships employed to cater to the pilgrims.
How to Attend?
Attending the Kumbh Mela is an unforgettable and daunting experience for every traveller irrespective of caste, creed and region. Being the world’s most significant event, Kumbh Mela attracts millions of people so the government has made special arrangements for visitors like camps and luxury tents along with tight security. Special guided tours are operated for the international travellers, so that they can enjoy the authentic feel of the Kumbh Mela. If you’re not too keen on staying in camps, there are many hotels available in and around Prayag. There is also a community area made for eating where people can enjoy the delicacies free of cost.
Earlier known as Allahabad, Praygraj is well connected by road, train and air. The airport is 12 km away from city centre at Bamrauli which has direct flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru while Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi is the nearest international airport to Allahabad. Allahabad Junction is well connected by trains with different parts of India. The place is well connected with roads as well.