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عزيزي زائر دليل الهاتف و بدالة أرقام الإمارات تم إعداد وإختيار هذا الموضوع Kumbh Mela فإن كان لديك ملاحظة او توجيه يمكنك مراسلتنا من خلال الخيارات الموجودة بالموضوع.. وكذلك يمكنك زيارة القسم en, وهنا نبذه عنها en وتصفح المواضيع المتنوعه... آخر تحديث للمعلومات بتاريخ اليوم 22/09/2022

Kumbh Mela

آخر تحديث منذ 11 يوم و 20 ساعة
2 مشاهدة



From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia


Significance and impact



The Kumbh melas of the past albeit with different regional names attracted large attendance and have been religiously significant to the Hindus for centuries. However they have been more than a religious event to the Hindu community. Historically the Kumbh Melas were also major commercial events initiation of new recruits to the akharas prayers and community singing spiritual discussions education and a spectacle. During the colonial era rule of the East India Company its officials saw the Hindu pilgrimage as a means to collect vast sums of revenue through a "pilgrim tax" and taxes on the trade that occurred during the festival. According to Dubey as well as Macclean the Islamic encyclopaedia Yadgar-i-Bahaduri written in 1834 Lucknow described the Prayag festival and its sanctity to the Hindus. The British officials states Dubey raised the tax to amount greater than average monthly income and the attendance fell drastically. The Prayagwal pandas initially went along according to colonial records but later resisted as the impact of the religious tax on the pilgrims became clear. In 1938 Lord Auckland abolished the pilgrim tax and vast numbers returned to the pilgrimage thereafter. According to Macclean the colonial records of this period on the Prayag Mela present a biased materialistic view given they were written by colonialists and missionaries.

Baptist missionary John Chamberlain who visited the 1824 Ardh Kumbh Mela at Haridwar stated that a large number of visitors came there for trade. He also includes a 1814 letter from his missionary friend who distributed copies of the Gospel to the pilgrims and tried to convert some to Christianity. According to an 1858 account of the Haridwar Kumbh Mela by the British civil servant Robert Montgomery Martin the visitors at the fair included people from a number of races and clime. Along with priests soldiers and religious mendicants the fair had horse traders from Bukhara Kabul Turkistan as well as Arabs and Persians. The festival had roadside merchants of food grains confectioners clothes toys and other items. Thousands of pilgrims in every form of transport as well as on foot marched to the pilgrimage site dressed in colorful costumes some without clothes occasionally shouting "Mahadeo Bol" and "Bol Bol" together. At night the river banks and camps illuminated with oil lamps fireworks burst over the river and innumerable floating lamps set by the pilgrims drifted downstream of the river. Several Hindu rajas Sikh rulers and Muslim Nawabs visited the fair. Europeans watched the crowds and few Christian missionaries distributed their religious literature at the Hardwar Mela wrote Martin.

Prior to 1838 the British officials collected taxes but provided no infrastructure or services to the pilgrims. This changed particularly after 1857. According to Amna Khalid the Kumbh Melas emerged as one of the social and political mobilisation venues and the colonial government became keen on monitoring these developments after the Indian rebellion of 1857. The government deployed police to gain this intelligence at the grassroots level of Kumbh Mela. The British officials in co-operation with the native police also made attempts to improve the infrastructure movement of pilgrims to avoid a stampede detect sickness and the sanitary conditions at the Melas. Reports of cholera led the officials to cancel the pilgrimage but the pilgrims went on "passive resistance" and stated they preferred to die rather than obey the official orders.


Massacres stampedes and scandals

The Kumbh Melas have been sites of tragedies. According to Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi – the historian and biographer of the Turco-Mongol raider and conqueror Timur his armies plundered Haridwar and massacred the gathered pilgrims. The ruthlessly slaughtered pilgrims were likely those attending the Kumbh mela of 1399. The Timur accounts mention the mass bathing ritual along with shaving of head the sacred river Ganges charitable donations the place was at the mountainous source of the river and that pilgrims believed a dip in the sacred river leads to their salvation.

Several stampedes have occurred at the Kumbh Melas. After an 1820 stampede at Haridwar killed 485 people the Company government took extensive infrastructure projects including the construction of new ghats and road widening to prevent further stampedes. The various Kumbh melas in the 19th- and 20th-century witnessed sporadic stampedes each tragedy leading to changes in how the flow of pilgrims to and from the river and ghats was managed. In 1986 50 people were killed in a stampede. The Prayag Kumbh mela in 1885 became a source of scandal when a Muslim named Husain was appointed as the Kumbh Mela manager and Indian newspaper reports stated that Husain had "organised a flotilla of festooned boats for the pleasure of European ladies and gentlemen and entertained them with dancing girls liquor and beef" as they watched the pilgrims bathing.


1857 rebellion and the Independence movement

According to the colonial archives the Prayagwal community associated with the Kumbh Mela were one of those who seeded and perpetuated the resistance and 1857 rebellion to the colonial rule. Prayagwals objected to and campaigned against the colonial government supported Christian missionaries and officials who treated them and the pilgrims as "ignorant co-religionists" and who aggressively tried to convert the Hindu pilgrims to a Christian sect. During the 1857 rebellion Colonel Neill targeted the Kumbh mela site and shelled the region where the Prayagwals lived destroying it in what Maclean describes as a "notoriously brutal pacification of Allahabad". "Prayagwals targeted and destroyed the mission press and churches in Allahabad". Once the British had regained control of the region the Prayagwals were persecuted by the colonial officials some convicted and hanged while others for whom the government did not have proof enough to convict were persecuted. Large tracts of Kumbh mela lands near the Ganga-Yamuna confluence were confiscated and annexed into the government cantonment. In the years after 1857 the Prayagwals and the Kumbh Mela pilgrim crowds carried flags with images alluding to the rebellion and the racial persecution. The British media reported these pilgrim assemblies and protests at the later Kumbh Mela as strangely "hostile" and with "disbelief" states Maclean.

The Kumbh Mela continued to play an important role in the independence movement through 1947 as a place where the native people and politicians periodically gathered in large numbers. In 1906 the Sanatan Dharm Sabha met at the Prayag Kumbh Mela and resolved to start the Banaras Hindu University in Madan Mohan Malaviya's leadership. Kumbh Melas have also been one of the hubs for the Hindutva movement and politics. In 1964 the Vishva Hindu Parishad was founded at the Haridwar Kumbh Mela.


Rising attendance and scale

The historical and modern estimates of attendance vary greatly between sources. For example the colonial era Imperial Gazetteer of India reported that between 2 and 2.5 million pilgrims attended the Kumbh mela in 1796 and 1808 then added these numbers may be exaggerations. Between 1892 and 1908 in an era of major famines cholera and plague epidemics in British India the pilgrimage dropped to between 300 000 and 400 000.

During World War II the colonial government banned the Kumbh Mela to conserve scarce supplies of fuel. The ban coupled with false rumours that Japan planned to bomb and commit genocide at the Kumbh mela site led to sharply lower attendance at the 1942 Kumbh mela than prior decades when an estimated 2 to 4 million pilgrims gathered at each Kumbh mela. After India's independence the attendance rose sharply. On amavasya – one of the three key bathing dates over 5 million attended the 1954 Kumbh about 10 million attended the 1977 Kumbh while the 1989 Kumbh attracted about 15 million.

On 14 April 1998 10 million pilgrims attended the Kumb Mela at Haridwar on the busiest single day according to the Himalayan Academy editors. In 2001 IKONOS satellite images confirmed a very large human gathering with officials estimating 70 million people over the festival including more than 40 million on the busiest single day according to BBC News. Another estimate states that about 30 million attended the 2001 Kumbh mela on the busiest mauni amavasya day alone.

In 2007 as many as 70 million pilgrims attended the 45-day long Ardha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. In 2013 120 million pilgrims attended the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. Nasik has registered maximum visitors to 75 million.

Maha Kumbh at Allahabad is the largest in the world the attendance and scale of preparation of which keeps rising with each successive celebration. For the 2019 Ardh Kumbh at Allahabad the preparations include a ₹42 000 million (US$590 million or €540 million) temporary city over 2 500 hectares with 122 000 temporary toilets and range of accommodation from simple dormitory tents to 5-star tents 800 special trains by the Indian Railway artificially intelligent video surveillance and analytics by IBM disease surveillance river transport management by Inland Waterways Authority of India and an app to help the visitors.

The Kumbh mela is "widely regarded as the world's largest religious gathering" states James Lochtefeld. According to Kama Maclean the coordinators and attendees themselves state that a part of the glory of the Kumbh festival is in that "feeling of brotherhood and love" where millions peacefully gather on the river banks in harmony and a sense of shared heritage.


Kumbh Mela in the media


Kumbh Mela has received extensive media coverage with several documentaries and films based on it. Kumbh Mela has been theme for many documentaries including Kings with Straw Mats (1998) directed by Ira Cohen Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth (2001) directed by Graham Day Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela (2004) directed by Nick Day and produced by "Maurizio Benazzo" Kumbh Mela: Songs of the River (2004) by Nadeem Uddin Invocation Kumbh Mela (2008) Kumbh Mela 2013: Living with Mahatiagi (2013) by the Ukrainian Religious Studies Project Ahamot and Kumbh Mela: Walking with the Nagas (2011) Amrit: Nectar of Immortality (2012) directed by Jonas Scheu and Philipp Eyer.

In 2007 the National Geographic filmed and broadcast a documentary of the Prayag Kumbh Mela named Inside Nirvana under the direction of Karina Holden with the scholar Kama Maclean as a consultant. In 2013 the National Geographic Channel returned and filmed the Inside the Mahakumbh. Indian and foreign news media have covered the Kumbh Mela regularly. On 18 April 2010 a popular American morning show CBS News Sunday Morning extensively covered Haridwar's Kumbh Mela calling it "The Largest Pilgrimage on Earth". On 28 April 2010 BBC reported an audio and a video report on Kumbh Mela titled "Kumbh Mela 'greatest show on earth."[citation needed]

Young siblings getting separated at the Kumbh Mela were once a recurring theme in Hindi movies. Amrita Kumbher Sandhane a 1982 Bengali feature film directed by Dilip Roy also documents the Kumbh Mela. On 30 September 2010 the Kumbh Mela featured in the second episode of the Sky One TV series "An Idiot Abroad" with Karl Pilkington visiting the festival.[citation needed]

Ashish Avikunthak’s Bengali-language feature length fiction film Kalkimanthakatha (2015) was shot in the Allahabad Kumbh Mela in 2013. In this film two characters search for the tenth avatar and the final avtar of Lord Vishnu – Kalki in the lines of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

In 2015 the Nashik Kumbha Mela was a test ground for smart city design innovations with MIT Media Lab and Kumbhathon Foundation in Nashik. This received significant media coverage in Wall Street Journal BBC and Guardian.

The 2021 Kumbh Mela has attracted scrutiny as a superspreader event
in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.


Calendar locations and preparations



Types

The Kumbh Mela are classified as:

The Purna Kumbh Mela (sometimes just called Kumbh or "full Kumbha") occurs every 12 years at a given site.
The Ardh Kumbh Mela ("half Kumbh") occurs approximately every 6 years between the two Purna Kumbha Melas at Allahabad and Haridwar.
The Maha Kumbh which occurs every 12 Purna Kumbh Melas i.e. after every 144 years.[citation needed]
For the 2019 Allahabad Kumbh Mela the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced that the Ardh Kumbh Mela (organised every 6 years) will simply be known as "Kumbh Mela" and the Kumbh Mela (organised every 12 years) will be known as "Maha Kumbh Mela" ("Great Kumbh Mela").


Locations



Numerous sites and fairs have been locally referred to be their Kumbh Melas. Of these four sites are broadly recognised as the Kumbh Melas: Allahabad Haridwar Trimbak-Nashik and Ujjain. Other locations that are sometimes called Kumbh melas – with the bathing ritual and a significant participation of pilgrims – include Kurukshetra and Sonipat.


Dates

Each site's celebration dates are calculated in advance according to a special combination of zodiacal positions of Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) Surya (the Sun) and Chandra (the Moon). The relative years vary between the four sites but the cycle repeats about every 12 years. Since Jupiter's orbit completes in 11.86 years a calendar year adjustment appears in approximately 8 cycles. Therefore approximately once a century the Kumbh mela returns to a site after 11 years.









































Place
River
Zodiac
Season months
First bathing date
Second date
Third date
Haridwar
Ganga
Jupiter in Aquarius Sun in Aries
Spring Chaitra (January–April)
Shivaratri
Chaitra Amavasya (new moon)
Mesh Sankranti
Prayag (Allahabad)[note 4]
Ganga and Yamuna junction
Jupiter in Aries Sun and Moon in Capricorn; or Jupiter in Taurus Sun in Capricorn
Winter Magha (January–February)
Makar Sankranti
Magh Amavasya
Vasant Panchami
Trimbak-Nashik
Godavari
Jupiter in Leo; or Jupiter Sun and Moon enters in Cancer on lunar conjunction
Summer Bhadrapada (August–September)
Simha sankranti
Bhadrapada Amavasya
Devotthayan Ekadashi
Ujjain
Shipra
Jupiter in Leo and Sun in Aries; or Jupiter Sun and Moon in Libra on Kartik Amavasya
Spring Vaisakha (April–May)
Chaitra Purnima
Chaitra Amavasya
Vaisakh Purnima


Past years

Kumbh Mela at Allahabad is celebrated approximately 3 years after Kumbh at Haridwar and 3 years before Kumbh at Nashik and Ujjain (both of which are celebrated in the same year or one year apart).



































































































































































































































































Year
Prayagraj (Allahabad)
Haridwar
Trimbak (Nashik)
Ujjain
1980


Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela
1981




1982




1983




1984
Ardh Kumbh Mela



1985




1986

Kumbh Mela


1987




1988




1989
Kumbh Mela



1990




1991




1992

Ardh Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela
1993




1994




1995
Ardh Kumbh Mela



1996




1997




1998

Kumbh Mela


1999




2000




2001
Kumbh Mela



2002




2003


Kumbh Mela

2004

Ardh Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela
2005




2006




2007
Ardh Kumbh Mela



2008




2009




2010

Kumbh Mela


2011




2012




2013
Kumbh Mela



2014




2015


Kumbh Mela

2016

Ardh Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela
2017




2018




2019
Ardh Kumbh Mela



2020




2021

Kumbh Mela




Historical Festival management

The Kumbh Mela attracts tens of millions of pilgrims. Providing for a safe and pleasant temporary stay at the festival site is a complex and challenging task. The camping (santhas/akharas) food water sanitation emergency health care fire services policing disaster management preparations the movement of people require significant prior planning. Further assistance to those with special needs and lost family members through Bhule-Bhatke Kendra demands extensive onsite communication and co-ordination. In the case of Prayag in particular the festival site is predominantly submerged during the monsoon months. The festival management workers have only two and a half months to start and complete the construction of all temporarily infrastructure necessary for the pilgrims making the task even more challenging.

In 2013 the Indian government authorities in co-operation with seva volunteers monks and Indian companies set up 11 sectors with 55 camp clusters providing round-the-clock first aid ambulance pharmacy sector cleaning sanitation food and water distribution (setting up 550 kilometers of pipelines operated by 42 pumps) cooking fuel and other services. According to Baranwal et al. their 13-day field study of the 2013 Kumbh mela found that "the Mela committee and all other agencies involved in Mela management successfully supervised the event and made it convenient efficient and safe " an assessment shared by the US-based Center for Disease Control for the Nasik Kumbh mela.


Impact of COVID-19 on 2021 festivities







Normally Kumbh Mela lasts four months but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic Kumbh Mela at Haridwar has been limited to 30 days in April 2021. On 14 April 2021 943 452 people took a holy dip in the River Ganges. Between 5 and 15 April 2021 68 seers in Haridwar tested positive for COVID-19. Mahamandaleshwar Kapil Dev Das head of one of the Hindu akhadas or ascetic councils died on 15 April 2021 from COVID-19.

Health experts had warned the Indian government in early march of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus.

About two thousand COVID-19 cases were detected at the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar during 10–14 April 2021. An unnamed senior Uttarakhand official said: "It is already a super-spreader because there is no space to test hundreds of thousands in a crammed city and the government neither has the facilities nor the manpower".

On 5 April 2021 government officials expressed concern that the event might become a superspreader. When this was reported in the press the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare responded with a tweet that it was "fake news". On 17 April 2021 Mahant Narayan Giri said "Death is inevitable but we must maintain our traditions".

At least 5037 people from the Mela had tested positive for COVID-19 as of 17 April 2021.

According to a report from Madhya Pradesh 99% of Kumbh Mela returnees from Haridwar had tested positive for COVID-19 and 22 pilgrims could not be traced.


Etymology and nomenclature


The Kumbha in Kumbha Mela literally means "pitcher jar pot" in Sanskrit. It is found in the Vedic texts in this sense often in the context of holding water or in mythical legends about the nectar of immortality. The word Kumbha or its derivatives are found in the Rigveda (1500–1200 BCE) for example in verse 10.89.7; verse 19.16 of the Yajurveda verse 6.3 of Samaveda verse 19.53.3 of the Atharvaveda and other Vedic and post-Vedic ancient Sanskrit literature. In astrological texts the term also refers to the zodiac sign of Aquarius. The astrological etymology dates to late 1st-millennium CE likely influenced by Greek zodiac ideas.

The word mela means "unite join meet move together assembly junction" in Sanskrit particularly in the context of fairs community celebration. This word too is found in the Rigveda and other ancient Hindu texts. Thus Kumbh Mela means an "assembly meet union" around "water or nectar of immortality".


Mythology

Many devout Hindus believe that the Kumbh Mela originated in times immemorial and is attested in the Hindu mythology about Samudra manthan (lit. churning of the ocean) found in the Vedic texts. Scholars in contrast question these claims as none of the ancient or medieval era texts that mention the Samudra Manthan legend ever link it to a "mela" or festival. According to Giorgio Bonazzoli – a scholar of Sanskrit Puranas these are anachronistic explanations an adaptation of early legends to a later practice by a "small circle of adherents" who have sought roots of a highly popular pilgrimage and festival.

This Hindu legend describes the creation of a "pot of amrita (nectar of immortality)" after the forces of good and evil churn the ocean of creation. The gods and demons fight over this pot the "kumbh " of nectar in order to gain immortality. In a later day extension to the legend the pot is spilled at four places and that is the origin of the four Kumbha Melas. The story varies and is inconsistent with some stating Vishnu as Mohini avatar others stating Dhanavantari or Garuda or Indra spilling the pot. This "spilling" and associated Kumbh Mela story is not found in the earliest mentions of the original legend of samudra manthan (churning of the ocean) such as the Vedic era texts (pre-500 BCE). Nor is this story found in the later era Puranas (3rd to 10th-century CE).

While the Kumbha Mela phrase is not found in the ancient or medieval era texts numerous chapters and verses in Hindu texts are found about a bathing festival the sacred junction of rivers Ganga Yamuna and mythical Saraswati at Prayag (in modern Allahabad) and pilgrimage to Prayag. These are in the form of Snana (bathe) ritual and in the form of Prayag Mahatmya (greatness of Prayag historical tour guides in Sanskrit).


Threat of terrorism


In November 2017 Islamic terrorist organisation ISIS threatened to attack the Hindu pilgrims who visit the Kumbh Mela and Thrissur Pooram. The 10-minute audio clip warned of a 2017 Las Vegas style attacks to be carried out by lone wolf attackers. The clip also called on the Mujahideen to use different tactics like poisoning the food use trucks or at least try to derail a train. The terrorists had threatened to poison the water of the Ganges river.

Notes



Rituals



Bathing and processions

Bathing or a dip in the river waters with a prayer is the central ritual of the Kumbh Melas for all pilgrims. Traditionally on amavasya – the most cherished day for bathing – the Hindu pilgrims welcome and wait for the thirteen sadhu akharas to bathe first. This event – called shahi snan or rajyogi snan – is marked by a celebratory processional march with banners flags elephants horses and musicians along with the naked or scantily clad monks [note 5] some smeared with bhasma (ashes). These monastic institutions come from different parts of India have a particular emblem symbol and deity (Ganesha Dattatreya Hanuman etc.). The largest contingent is the Juna akhara traced to Adi Shankara representing a diverse mix from the four of the largest Hindu monasteries in India with their headquarters at Sringeri Dvarka Jyotirmatha and Govardhana. The Mahanirbani and Niranjani are the other large contingents and each akhara has their own lineage of saints and teachers. Large crowds gather in reverence and cheer for this procession of monks. Once these monks have taken the dip the festival day opens for bathing by the pilgrims from far and near the site.

The bathing ritual by the pilgrims may be aided by a Prayagwal priest or maybe a simple dip that is private. When aided the rituals may begin with mundan (shaving of head) prayers with offerings such as flowers sindur (vermilion) milk or coconut along with the recitation of hymns with shradha (prayers in the honour of one's ancestors). More elaborate ceremonies include a yajna (homa) led by a priest. After these river-side rituals the pilgrim then takes a dip in the water stands up prays for a short while then exits the river waters. Many then proceed to visit old Hindu temples near the site.

The motivations for the bathing ritual are several. The most significant is the belief that the tirtha (pilgrimage) to the Kumbh Mela sites and then bathing in these holy rivers has a salvific value moksha – a means to liberation from the cycle of rebirths (samsara). The pilgrimage is also recommended in Hindu texts to those who have made mistakes or sinned repent their errors and as a means of prāyaścitta (atonement penance) for these mistakes. Pilgrimage and bathing in holy rivers with a motivation to do penance and as a means to self-purify has Vedic precedents and is discussed in the early dharma literature of Hinduism. Its epics such as the Mahabharata describe Yudhisthira in a state full of sorrow and despair after participating in the violence of the great war that killed many. He goes to a saint who advises him to go on a pilgrimage to Prayag and bathe in river Ganges as a means of penance.


Feasts festivities and discussions

Some pilgrims walk considerable distances and arrive barefoot as a part of their religious tradition. Most pilgrims stay for a day or two but some stay the entire month of Magh during the festival and live an austere life during the stay. They attend spiritual discourses fast and pray over the month and these Kumbh pilgrims are called kalpavasis.

The festival site is strictly vegetarian by tradition as violence against animals is considered unacceptable. Many pilgrims practice partial (one meal a day) or full vrata (day-long fasting) some abstain from elaborate meals. These ritual practices are punctuated by celebratory feasts where vast number of people sit in rows and share a community meal – mahaprasada – prepared by volunteers from charitable donations. By tradition families and companies sponsor these anna dana (food charity) events particularly for the monks and the poor pilgrims.

Other activities at the mela include religious discussions (pravachan) devotional singing (kirtan) and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardised (shastrartha). The festival grounds also feature a wide range of cultural spectacles over the month of celebrations. These include kalagram (venues of kala Indian arts) laser light shows classical dance and musical performances from different parts of India thematic gates reflecting the historic regional architectural diversity boat rides tourist walks to historic sites near the river as well opportunities to visit the monastic camps to watch yoga adepts and spiritual discourses.


Darshan

Darshan or viewing is an important part of the Kumbh Mela. People make the pilgrimage to the Kumbh Mela specifically to observe and experience both the religious and secular aspects of the event. Two major groups that participate in the Kumbh Mela include the Sadhus (Hindu holy men) and pilgrims. Through their continual yogic practices the Sadhus articulate the transitory aspect of life. Sadhus travel to the Kumbh Mela to make themselves available to much of the Hindu public. This allows members of the Hindu public to interact with the Sadhus and to take "darshan." They are able to "seek instruction or advice in their spiritual lives." Darshan focuses on the visual exchange where there is interaction with a religious deity and the worshiper is able to visually "'drink' divine power." The Kumbh Mela is arranged in camps that give Hindu worshipers access to the Sadhus. The darshan is important to the experience of the Kumbh Mela and because of this worshipers must be careful so as to not displease religious deities. Seeing of the Sadhus is carefully managed and worshipers often leave tokens at their feet.


History


The earliest mention of Prayag and the bathing pilgrimage is found in Rigveda Pariśiṣṭa (supplement to the Rigveda). It is also mentioned in the Pali canons of Buddhism such as in section 1.7 of Majjhima Nikaya wherein the Buddha states that bathing in Payaga (Skt: Prayaga) cannot wash away cruel and evil deeds rather the virtuous one should be pure in heart and fair in action. The Mahabharata mentions a bathing pilgrimage at Prayag as a means of prāyaścitta (atonement penance) for past mistakes and guilt. In Tirthayatra Parva before the great war the epic states "the one who observes firm [ethical] vows having bathed at Prayaga during Magha O best of the Bharatas becomes spotless and reaches heaven." In Anushasana parva after the war the epic elaborates this bathing pilgrimage as "geographical tirtha" that must be combined with manasa-tirtha (tirtha of the heart) whereby one lives by values such as truth charity self-control patience and others.

There are other references to Prayaga and river-side festivals in ancient Indian texts including at the places where present-day Kumbh Melas are held but the exact age of the Kumbh Mela is uncertain. The 7th-century Buddhist Chinese traveller Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) mentions king Harsha and his capital of Prayag which he states to be a sacred Hindu city with hundreds of "deva temples" and two Buddhist institutions. He also mentions the Hindu bathing rituals at the junction of the rivers. According to some scholars this is the earliest surviving historical account of the Kumbh Mela which took place in present-day Prayag in 644 CE.

Kama MacLean – an Indologist who has published articles on the Kumbh Mela predominantly based on the colonial archives and English-language media states based on emails from other scholars and a more recent interpretation of the 7th-century Xuanzang memoir the Prayag event happened every 5 years (and not 12 years) featured a Buddha statue involved alms giving and it might have been a Buddhist festival. In contrast Ariel Glucklich – a scholar of Hinduism and Anthropology of Religion the Xuanzang memoir includes somewhat derisively the reputation of Prayag as a place where people (Hindus) once committed superstitious devotional suicide to liberate their souls and how a Brahmin of an earlier era successfully put an end to this practice. This and other details such as the names of temples and bathing pools suggest that Xuanzang presented Hindu practices at Prayag in the 7th-century from his Buddhist perspective and perhaps to "amuse his audience back in China" states Glucklich.

Other early accounts of the significance of Prayag to Hinduism is found in the various versions of the Prayaga Mahatmya dated to the late 1st-millennium CE. These Purana-genre Hindu texts describe it as a place "bustling with pilgrims priests vendors beggars guides" and local citizens busy along the confluence of the rivers (sangam). These Sanskrit guide books of the medieval era India were updated over its editions likely by priests and guides who had a mutual stake in the economic returns from the visiting pilgrims. One of the longest sections about Prayag rivers and its significance to Hindu pilgrimage is found in chapters 103–112 of the Matsya Purana.


Evolution of earlier melas to Kumbh Melas

According to James Lochtefeld – a scholar of Indian religions the phrase Kumbh Mela and historical data about it is missing in early Indian texts. However states Lochtefeld these historical texts "clearly reveal large well-established bathing festivals" that were either annual or based on the twelve-year cycle of planet Jupiter. Manuscripts related to Hindu ascetics and warrior-monks – akharas fighting the Islamic Sultanates and Mughal Empire era – mention bathing pilgrimage and a large periodic assembly of Hindus at religious festivals associated with bathing gift-giving commerce and organisation. An early account of the Haridwar Kumbh Mela was published by Captain Thomas Hardwicke in 1796 CE.

According to James Mallinson – a scholar of Hindu yoga manuscripts and monastic institutions bathing festivals at Prayag with large gatherings of pilgrims are attested since "at least the middle of the first millennium CE" while textual evidence exists for similar pilgrimage at other major sacred rivers since the medieval period. Four of these morphed under the Kumbh Mela brand during the East India Company rule (British colonial era) when it sought to control the war-prone monks and the lucrative tax and trade revenues at these Hindu pilgrimage festivals. Additionally the priests sought the British administration to recognise the festival and protect their religious rights.

The 16th-century Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas mentions an annual Mela in Prayag as does a Muslim historian's Ain-i-Akbari (c. 1590 CE). The latter Akbar-era Persian text calls Prayag (spells it Priyag) the "king of shrines" for the Hindus and mentions that it is considered particularly holy in the Hindu month of Magha. The late 16th-century Tabaqat-i-Akbari also records of an annual bathing festival at Prayag sangam where "various classes of Hindus came from all sides of the country to bathe in such numbers that the jungles and plains [around it] were unable to hold them".

The Kumbh Mela of Haridwar appears to be the original Kumbh Mela since it is held according to the astrological sign "Kumbha" (Aquarius) and because there are several references to a 12-year cycle for it. The later Mughal Empire era texts that contain the term "Kumbha Mela" in Haridwar's context include Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh (1695–1699 CE) and Chahar Gulshan (1759 CE). The Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh also mentions an annual bathing pilgrimage festival in Allahabad but it does not call it Kumbh. Both these Mughal era texts use the term "Kumbh Mela" to describe only Haridwar's fair mentioning a similar fair held in Prayag and Nashik. The Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh lists the following melas: an annual mela and a Kumbh Mela every 12 years at Haridwar; a mela held at Trimbak when Jupiter enters Leo (that is once in 12 years); and an annual mela held at Prayag (in modern Allahabad) in Magh.

Like the Prayag mela the bathing pilgrimage mela at Nasik and Ujjain are of considerable antiquity. However these were referred to as Singhasth mela and the phrase "Kumbh mela" is yet to be found in literature prior to the 19th-century. The phrases such as "Maha Kumbh" and "Ardh Kumbh" in the context of the ancient religious pilgrimage festivals with a different name at Prayag Nasik and Ujjain are evidently of a more modern era.

The Magh Mela of Prayag is probably the oldest among the four modern day Kumbh Melas. It dates from the early centuries CE given it has been mentioned in several early Puranas. However the name Kumbh for these more ancient bathing pilgrimages probably dates to the mid-19th century. D. P. Dubey states that none of the ancient Hindu texts call the Prayag fair as a "Kumbh Mela". Kama Maclean states that the early British records do not mention the name "Kumbh Mela" or the 12-year cycle for the Prayag fair. The first British reference to the Kumbh Mela in Prayag occurs only in an 1868 report which mentions the need for increased pilgrimage and sanitation controls at the "Coomb fair" to be held in January 1870. According to Maclean the Prayagwal Brahmin priests of Prayag coopted the Kumbh legend and brand to the annual Prayag Magh Mela given the socio-political circumstances in the 19th-century.

The Kumbh Mela at Ujjain began in the 18th century when the Maratha ruler Ranoji Shinde invited ascetics from Nashik to Ujjain for a local festival. Like the priests at Prayag those at Nashik and Ujjain competing with other places for a sacred status may have adopted the Kumbh tradition for their pre-existing Magha melas.


Akharas: Warrior monks recruitment drive and logistics

One of the key features of the Kumbh mela has been the camps and processions of the sadhus (monks). By the 18th-century many of these had organised into one of thirteen akharas (warrior ascetic bands monastic militia) of which ten were related to Hinduism and three related to Sikhism. Seven have belonged to the Shaivism tradition three to Vaishnavism two to Udasis (founded by Guru Nanak's son) and one to Nirmalas. These soldier-monk traditions have been a well-established feature of the Indian society and they are prominent feature of the Kumbh melas.

Until the East India Company rule the Kumbh Melas (Magha Melas) were managed by these akharas. They provide logistical arrangements policing intervened and judged any disputes and collected taxes. They also have been a central attraction and a stop for mainstream Hindus who seek their darsana (meeting view) as well as spiritual guidance and blessings. The Kumbh Melas have been one of their recruitment and initiation venues as well as the place to trade. These akharas have roots in the Hindu Naga (naked) monks tradition who went to war without clothes. These monastic groups traditionally credit the Kumbh mela to the 8th-century Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara as a part of his efforts to start monastic institutions (matha) and major Hindu gatherings for philosophical discussions and debates. However there is no historic literary evidence that he actually did start the Kumbh melas.

During the 17th-century the akharas competed for ritual primacy priority rights to who bathes first or at the most auspicious time and prominence leading to violent conflicts. The records from the East India Company rule era report of violence between the akharas and numerous deaths. At the 1760 Kumbh Mela in Haridwar a clash broke out between Shaivite Gosains and Vaishnavite Bairagis (ascetics) resulting in hundreds of deaths. A copper plate inscription of the Maratha Peshwa claims that 12 000 ascetics died in a clash between Shaivite sanyasis and Vaishnavite bairagis at the 1789 Nashik Kumbh Mela. The dispute started over the bathing order which then indicated status of the akharas. At the 1796 Kumbh Mela in Haridwar violence broke out between the Shaivites and the Udasis on logistics and camping rights.

The repetitive clashes battle-ready nature of the warrior monks and the lucrative tax and trading opportunities at Kumbh melas in the 18th-century attracted the attention of the East India Company officials. They intervened laid out the camps trading spaces and established a bathing order for each akhara. After 1947 the state governments have taken over this role and provide the infrastructure for the Kumbh mela in their respective states.

The Kumbh Melas attract many loner sadhus (monks) who do not belong to any akharas. Of those who do belong to a group the thirteen active akharas have been

7 Shaiva akharas:[note 2] Mahanirvani Atal Niranjani Anand Juna Avahan and Agni
3 Vaishnava akharas:[note 3] Nirvani Digambar and Nirmohi
3 Sikh akharas: Bara Panchayati Udasins Chota Panchayati Udasins and Nirmal
The ten Shaiva and Vaishnava akharas are also known as the Dasanamis and they believe that Adi Shankara founded them and one of their traditional duties is dharma-raksha (protection of faith).

See also



simple explanation




Kumbh Mela






CountryIndia
DomainsReligious pilgrimage rituals social practices and festive events
CriteriaNone
Reference01258
RegionAsia and the Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription2017 (12th session)
ListRepresentative







Held alternately among Allahabad Haridwar Nashik and Ujjain every three years.