In the Bhagavad Gita it is mentioned that - When a person is devoted to something with complete faith, I (God) unify his faith in that. Then, when his faith is completely unified, he gains the object of his devotion.
Kumbh is the largest gathering of religion, faith, devotion, in which the whole of the world takes part and takes a dip in the sacred river to get emancipation. But have you ever thought that what is the significance of Kumbh, why it is important, what is the story behind Kumbh Mela?
Let us take you to this divine experience -
Uttarakhand has always been considered as the land of God since ages. This land is considered as the land of seekers and devotion. It is the land of Shiva (Kedarnath & Haridwar), the land of Vishnu (Badrinath, Har-ki-Pauri), and also the origin place of Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati.
Meaning, History & Significance of Kumbh Mela
Origin of the Kumbh is perhaps as old as Hindu religion and later in the 8th century it was revived by Adi-Guru Shankracharya. Kumbh Mela is formed with 2 words Kumbh & Mela. Kumbh means pitcher, also connected with the Astrological term Aquarius (which also means Kumbh), and mela means fair or gathering.
According to the mythology, Devtas (Gods) & Asuras(Demons) chunning the sea (Samudra-Manthan) for acquisition of 14 precious ratnas (items).
These 14 ratnas are - Lakshmi, Apsaras Rambha, Varuni devi, Kamdhenu, Airavat, Uchhaishravas, Kaustubha, Parijata, Dhanvantari, Halahal (poision), Shankha, Kalpvriksha, Amirta Kalash/Kumbh (pitcher of nectar).
Few things owned by Demons and few by Devs, but when Amrita Kumbh appears, both Devs and Demons start fighting for owning the pitcher, to become immortal. So to hide this pitcher from Demons, four Dev (Brahaspati, Surya, Chandra and Shania) ran with Amrita Kalasha. Demons started chasing them and this chase lasted for 12 days and nights. During this chase Devs hide this pitcher at four different locations Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain, Nasik. To commemorate this holy event, Kumbh is celebrated at these places, every twelve year.
Another theory says by legends is - when Amrita Kalasha appears, Jayanta( the son of Indra) ran with the amarata kalash for 12 days, during this few drops of nectar fell from the pitcher at four different location - Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik. Those 12 days are equal to 12 years for humans, and that’s why Kumbh is celebrated every 12 years at these locations.
What’s the Mythological beliefs & Process of Snan
According to mythological beliefs, taking a holy dip in the sacred river Ganga, emancipates you from all the worldly sins. It is also believed that at the time of Kumbh, the water of Ganga is charged with positive healing effects and enhanced electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter.
On Kumbh Mela Snan Day, the first bath is led by the Naga Sadhus and Akhara's Saints, which is known as Shahi Snan of Kumbh. Firstly the Saints and the Naga Saints take the royal bath and after that common people get permission to take a bath in the holy river. This Snan process starts around 2-3 Am.
How Kumbh Mela Dates Decides
Every year, the dates for Kumbh Mela are calculated according to the combination of the Sun, Jupiter, and the Moon's zodiac positions. The Shahi Snan is usually held on full-moon or no-moon days. The astrological dates of Kumbh at Haridwar fall when Venus and Jupiter correspond with Aquarius and Sun and Moon are on the Aries and Sagittarius.
Kumbh Mela is held in four cities (Haridwar, Prayag, Nasik, Ujjain) every three years in the rotation, thus each place getting its turn only after 12 years.
Why does Haridwar celebrate kumbh 2021 instead of 2022
The last Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar was held in 2010, so mathematically the next Kumbh should be in 2022, but it would be celebrated in 2021. The reason is that after more than 100 years the Kumbh will be held earlier. It is happening because of auspicious dates and astrological positions.
How it is different from 2010 Kumbh
In 2010, around 7 million people dipped in the holy water on Kumbh, and in 2021 it estimated more than 15 million devotees could take part in this Kumbh.
Devotees can dip into clean Ganga. Because of the Namami Ganga mission & Covid affect the water of Ganga would be more clean and clear.
Because of technology advancement, this Kumbh will be more secure, highly facilitated.
More than 100 new ghats are made on the bank of Ganga, so every single person could take part in the grand Kumbh gathering.
Haridwar Kumbh Mela 2021 Dates (Shahi-Snan Bathing Dates)
Makar Sankranti (Snan) - 14 January 2021
Mauni Amavasya (Snan) - 11 February 2021
Basant Panchami (Snan) - 16 February 2021
Magh Poornima - 27 February 2021
Maha Shivratri (Shahi Snan) - 11 March 2021
Somvati Amavasya (Shahi Snan) - 12 April 2021
Chaitra Shukla Pratipada (Snan) - 13 April 2021
Baisakhi (Shahi Snan) - 14 April 2021
Ram Navami (Snan) - 21 April 2021
Chaitra Purnima (Shahi Snan) - 27 April 2021
Types of Kumbh
Maha Kumbh - Maha Kumbh is organised every 144 years (12 complete Purna Kumbh) and held only in Prayagraj.
Purna Kumbh/Kumbh Mela - Purna Kumbh is celebrated every 12 years at all four places.
Ardh Kumbh or Kumbh - Ardh Kumbhas follow the Kumbhas every sixth year in Haridwar and Prayagraj.
Attraction of Kumbh Mela
Night Walk Experience
The first written information about Kumbh Mela is mentioned in Bhagavad Purana, and Hiuen Tsnag (Chinese Traveller in 629-645 AD) also the Samudra Manthan evidence is mentioned in Vishnu Purana, Mahabharat, & Ramayan.
Recently organised Pryag Kumbh is the World’s largest gathering of religious pilgrims.
Kumbh means the pitcher of nectar. The Kumbh Mela story dates back to the time when gods resided on the earth. Due to the curse of Sage Durvasa, the Devs were weakened and demons were causing havoc on the earth.
Highlights of Haridwar
Haridwar is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site in India, which is also known as the “Doorway of Abodes”. This is the place where Ganga enters the planes leaving the mountains & valleys behind. This is the place of both Vishnu & Shiva that’s why its religious significance is more important for Hindus. Some of the popular places in Haridwar where you can visit are - Har-ki-Pauri, Chandi Devi Temple, Mansa Devi Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Daksh Temple (place where Devi Sati sacrifices her life in Yagya Kund), Sati Kund, Shiva Statue (108 ft.), Shanti Kunj, etc.
Kankhal is a small town in Haridwar which is just a few kms from the main Haridwar. Kankhal is the territory of Daksha (Father of Sati) in ancient times that’s why you’ll . From the last couple of decades, many rulers rule over this region that’s why you’ll see the Kankhal is also home to numerous Havelis estates, wall paintings, old architecture houses etc.
Other than this, there are many things to experience where you can invest your time on your Haridwar Trip like - Har-ki-Pauri Ganga Arti, Rajaji National Park Safari, also can try tasty local cuisine, healing & spiritual activities in Haridwar.
How to visit Haridwar
You can visit Haridwar either by road, train or by air. From my experience, roads and railways are the best way.
By Road - You can come by Bus, Cab and also by your own car. Haridwar is 220 km from Delhi, and approx 500 km from the Lucknow city.
By Rail - Haridwar is well connected with most of the major cities by rail network. It is directly linked with cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Dehradun, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Patna, Gaya, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Kochi by a good number of express trains.
By Air - Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport, which is approx 50 Km from the main Haridwar. There is good flight connectivity with nearby and other cities, like Chandigarh, Patna, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Amritsar, Raipur, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, etc. Once you reach Dehradun you can reach Haridwar by train or by bus.
Point to remember
Accommodation issue - During the Kumbh time, getting accommodation in Haridwar is not an easy task. All the hotels, ashrams, and camps get jam-packed, which creates shortages of accommodation. So it is always advised to book your accommodation in advance.
Parking issue - To take part in this mass spiritual gathering, most devotees travel by carrying their own vehicle/transports which creates parking shortage in the region. And sometimes parking areas taken by the administration for their official uses. To overcome the parking shortage & conjunction problem they provide parking facilities in the outercourse of the city.
Traffic Jam - In Kumbh Traffic jam is the major concern which ruins most of the devotees' yatra.
Take care of Family Members - You might have heard about the loss of siblings in Kumbh Mela many times. Actually, it is quite true because, on the Snan Days, the crowd is so massive and thick that people easily get disoriented. That’s why in every Kumbh, many parents, children, siblings lose their family members. In this kind of emergency situation firstly try to look for the lost member around you, in case you didn’t find them, then immediately run to the Lost & Found camps (Khoya Paya Kendra), file your missing complaint. Then volunteers of Lost & Found will make the announcement of that particular member and help you to reunite with the lost member.
Helpline no - It is advised to keep the emergency contact numbers handy all the time. Here are some of important kumbh emergency contact numbers -
Kumbh Helpline Number -
Women & Child Helpline numbers -
Ambulance - 108
Police - 100