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Kumbh Festival


The holiness of India is best reflected through its pilgrimages, which can be classified as Jal Teerth (water pilgrimage) & Mandir Tirth (temple pilgrimage).Kumbh festival is celebrated as a Jal Tirth. Held at Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain, and Nasik, it is India’s most famous bathing festival. These places are also an invaluable heritage of Indian culture and history, besides the popularity gained through the festivals. The Kumbh festival is held at the same venue at an interval of 12 years on a cyclical basis and an Ardh-kumbh (Half kumbh) is held in between 2 Mahakumbhs. Besides pilgrims, saints, and tourists, a large number of devotees and common people from India as well as overseas are known to take part in these celebrations. Thus, it can be said that the 3 streams of gyan (knowledge), bhakti (devotion), and karma (deeds) flow at the concerned venue during the period of Kumbh, which according to the Indian spiritualistic tradition is said to be the path to salvation. Hence, a Kumbh bath is also known as the Moksh-daayi (giver of salvation).
The word Kumbh means a pot that is symbolic of the pot of nectar obtained after the churning of the ocean. It is believed to be a source of immortality and the Kumbh festival, therefore, is a symbol of immortality. The Kumbh brings about radiance and enlightenment in an individual’s wisdom through knowledge from the teachings of saints, in the mind through devotion to God, in the body through the auspicious bath, and in behaviour through control over the senses.
Kumbh festival is marked by the gathering and participation of saints and followers of various Hindu sects. They offer religious discourses and lectures and promote their respective sects. These factions are divided into various Akhadas, and the saints of these akhadas take a holy dip in a serial order set by tradition. Some of the prominent akhadas are – Shri Niranjani, Shri Nirvani, Shri Udaseen Panchayati, Shri NIrmal Panchayati, Shri Nathpanthi, Shri Vaishnav Vairagi, Shri Panchagni, Shri Atal, Shri Anand etc. During this bathing festival, the leader (mahant or goswami) of the sect bathes first and then the followers of the concerned sect. At the Kumbh at Nasik, Haridwar, etc., Niranjani has a priority and its goswami has the right to the first bath.
This festival is a symbol of perpetuity and liveliness of India’s culture. It involves participation from people with diverse linguistic backgrounds from all corners of the nation with their respective customs and traditions, food habits, lifestyles, and local cultures. These multiple & diverse cultures demonstrate the richness & unity of the Indian culture. They also present an opportunity to understand the views of intellectuals from different philosophical and devotional backgrounds through which an ordinary Indian not only spiritually seeks the path to salvation but also takes pride in his culture in the mortal world.
Kumbh is held at an interval of 12 years on the basis of astrological calculations and lasts for a month. The astrological positions of the differentKumbh festivals are as follows:
Prayag Kumbh:
 when Jupiter is in Aries and Sun & Moon are in Capricorn
Haridwar Kumbh:
 when Jupiter is in Aquarius and Sun is in Aries
Ujjain Kumbh:
 when Jupiter is in Leo and Sun is in Aries.
Nasik Kumbh:
 when Jupiter and Sun are in Leo together. This event is called Sinhasth;hence, the Nasik Kumbh is also called SinhasthKumbh.
The significance of the Kumbh bath finds a number of mentions in the puranas. It is stated as the best among pilgrimages and the greatest among festivals.


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