By far the most spectacular of all the events, the Kumbh Mela is
a religious festival that occurs once every 12 years, and is celebrated
in four major pilgrim centres around the country. In Maharastra,
the festival is held in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik. The Nashik Kumbh
Mela is generally acknowledged to be the most sacred of all the
Why every 12 years?
Amrut had to be saved from Danavas. So Gods had to hide
it at different places - Swargalok, Mrutyulok and Patallok. Gods
were on Mrutyulok (earth) for twelve days. Gods twelve days are
equal to 12 years for Mrutyulok . Thus Gods were on earth for 12
years with Amrut. Hence every 12 years Kumbha Mela is celebrated
at the four places, where a few drops of Amrut had fallen.
Where and when?
Kumbha Mela is a mammoth fair where saints and devotees gather.
Kumbha Mela is celebrated at the aforesaid four places depending
on the positions of planets and stars.
When Jupiter (Guru) and Sun are in zodiac signLeo(Simha
Rashi) it is celebrated in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik.
When Sun is in zodiac sign Aries (Mesha Rashi) it is celebrated
When Jupiter is in zodiac sign Taurus (Vrishabha Rashi ) and Sun
is in zodiac sign Capricorn (Makar Rashi) Kumbha Mela is celebrated
When Guru and Sun are in zodiac sign scorpio (Vrishchik Rashi) the
Mela is celebrated at Ujjain.
Recognizing the importance of the Sinhastha Kumbha Mela Shri Shankaracharya
appealed the disciples of his Vaidik Dharma to assemble at the time
of Sinhastha Kumbha Mela. Following his appeal, till now devotees,
pilgrims, and people of various sects and religions gather together
for Kumbha Mela.
In Kruta Yuga, Durwas Rishi saw Indra - the King
of Gods - sitting on elephant Airawat. Durwas was pleased to see
Indra and presented him a chain. However Indra did not accept the
present . It fell down and was trodden by elephant Airawat. Durwas
Rishi got upset due to this and cursed Indra. As an effect of the
curse, all Gods lost their powers and had to often lose a battle
against Danavas (Demons). So all Gods including Brahmadeva surrendered
themselves to God Vishnu to get back their power. Vishnu suggested
them to approach Danavas and persuade them to perform Samudra Manthana
(churning of the sea). He said Samudra Manthana will bring out Amruta
, which will bring back your power and you will not be efeated by
Danavas. So Samudra Manthana was carried out.
One of the many precious things that arose from
the depths of the troubled waters was a pot of nectar (Amrit Kumbh).
Lord Vishnu, disguising himself as an enchantress ( Mohini), seized
the nectar from the demons. While fleeing from the evil ones, Lord
Vishnu passed the nectar on to his winged mount, Garuda. The demons
finally caught up with Garuda and in the ensuing struggle, a few
drops of the precious nectar fell on Allahabad, Nashik, Hardwar
and Ujjain. Since then, the Kumbh Mela has been held in all these
places, every 12 years.
Another story is that once all the Teerthas went
to Adinath Bhagwan Shankara . Following Bhagwan Shankara’s
order they had been to Mrutyuloka (earth) to save sinners on earth.
Teerthas absolved the sinners on the earth, but were themselves
saturated with others’ sins . They requested Bhagwan Shankara
to free themselves from sins. Shankara asked them to go and live
in solitude for one year at the bank of river Godavari. Shankara
promised the Teerthas that he himself, with all other Gods will
also stay with them . After taking bath in the sacred water of Godavari,
they will be free from the sins.
Hence during the Kumbha Mela a dip in Godavari river
has attained a great importance. In Shiva Purana there is a story
explaining the importance of Sinhastha Kumbha Mela. Gautama Rishi
got salvation of his cow-killing sin from Lord Shankara after a
long penance. Then the river Ganges descended down on the earth.
After some time she wanted to go back to her home place. However
the Rishis and Gods gathered there and requested her to stay back
on the earth for the prosperity of the earth. She agreed to stay
back only after taking a promise from Lord Shankara that all the
Rishis present there and all Gods will stay with her. Then only
she will stay back. Gods and Rishis promised her that during the
period, when Jupiter and Sun will be in the zodiac sign Leo (Simha
Rashi), they will all stay on the earth.
In later years , it is said , acknowledging importance
of Kumbha Mela Lord Rama with his Guru Kashyap stayed and lived
for one year in Trimbakeshwar. During this period he performed all
the religious rites like yatra, shraddha etc near Kushavarta
There are different dwelling places for different sects. They are
called “Akhada”. The names of these Akhadas are - Shree
Niranjani , Shree Junadatta (Bhairav),Shree Mahanirvani, Shree Atal,
Shree Avahana, Shree Anand, Shree Pancha Agni, Shree Nathpanthi
Gorakhnath, Shree Vaishnav Bairagi, Shree Udasini Panchayati Bada,
Shree Udasini Naya, Shree Nirmal Panchayati etc. They have been
established at different times and worship their own deity.
Leaders of the different sects have arrived at a
consensus to follow a specific sequence for taking bath. E.g. In
Haridwar Mela, Niranjani Gosawi will take bath first and then Nirwani
Gosawi will bathe. In Trimbakeshwar, first Niranjani Gosawi will
take bath and after they leave Kushawarta Teertha, Nirvani Gosawi
will take bath . After them the old Udasee sadhu followed by new
Udasee Sadhus will take bath.
The Nashik Kumbh Mela is a mammoth affair with over
three and a half million people attending it. Thousands of Sadhus
and holy men and millions of pilgrims immerse themselves in the
holy Ramkund and Kushavarta reservoirs. The peak festival days are
August 14 and 25 and September 8 and 20. During the Kumbha Mela,
Nashik City and Trimbakeshwar are in a fantastic festive mood. The
festive and religious mood makes people get away from their daily
chores and experience the spiritual ecstacy.