10 Most Interesting Facts About the Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela is the biggest Hindu festival that brings everyone, irrespective of their sex, caste, creed, colour, or social status, together. Even foreigners visit India to watch the grand celebrations. This year, though, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the festival has seen a limited number of devotees. So now that the Mela is going on, here are 10 interesting facts about the Kumbh Mela that you should be aware of that will pique your interest in it.

1. Largest gathering

The Kumbh Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world with even foreigners attending the festival.

Image Source: UP Government

2. UNESCO honour

Recognizing its importance, UNESCO included the Kumbh Mela on its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2017.

Image Source: AlGraChe (Flickr)

3. Locations

The Kumbh Mela is held in four different sites periodically in rotation,
On the banks of the Godavari river in Nashik, Maharashtra.
On the banks of the Shipra river in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
On the banks of the Ganges river in Haridwar, Uttarakhand.
On the banks of the Sangam of the Ganges, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati rivers in Prayag, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.

Image Source: AlGraChe (Flickr)

4. Maha Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh

Maha Kumbh Mela is held once every 12 years. In the sixth year, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela occurs. The Maha Kumbh Mela is being held this year after only 11 years instead of the usual 12. This phenomenon has occurred after 80 years.

Image Source: The Unruly Traveler

5. Akhadas

Sadhus from 13 akhadas visit the Mela and give religious and spiritual advice to the pilgrims.
Shree Panch Dashnaam Juna Akhada
Shree Panchayati Akhada Niranjani
Shree Shambhu Panchayati Atal Akhada
Shree Panchayati Akhada Mahanirvani
Shree Panchayati Akhada Bada Udasin
Shree Panchayati Akhada Naya Udasin
Shree Panch Nirmohi Ani Akhada
Shree Panch Digamber Ani Akhada
Shree Panch Nirvani Ani Akhada
Shree Panchayati Akhada Nirmala
Shree Shambhu Panchagni Akhada
Shree Panch dashnaam Aavahan Akhada
Taponidhi Shree Anand Akhada Panchayat
In the 2019 Kumbh Mela, the Kinnar Akhada, for the transgender community was introduced for the first time.

Image Source: Roshan Travel Photography (Flickr)

6. Mythological importance

Another one interesting facts about the Kumbh Mela is its mythological importance. The word Kumbh literally means a pot. According to mythology, while Garuda was fleeing with the Kumbh of Amrit from the battlefield of the devatas and the asuras, drops fell at the sites the Mela is held at today. On the days of the festival, the water of the rivers is said to turn into Amrit.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. Sins washed away

It is believed that a dip in the river during the Melas absolves the pilgrims and their ancestors of all sins and brings them closer to salvation.

Image Source: The Belurs (Flickr)

8. Historical importance

The Kumbh Mela is over 2000 years old. The first written evidence is found in the works of Hiuen Tsang who wrote about the Mela held at Prayag during the 7th century. The most modern reference to the Kumbh Mela is found in the British Report of 1868, which refers to a Coomb Fair going to be held in Allahabad in 1870.

9.Ganga Pujan in 2021

For the first time ever, in the 2021 Kumbh Mela, the Ganga Pujan ritual was performed at Brahma Kund on the river bank. The ceremony was a spectacular affair attended by representatives of all 13 akhadas, along with Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, his cabinet colleague Bansidhar Bhagat and Uttarakhand assembly Speaker Premchand Aggarwal.

Image Source: The Unruly Traveler

10. Loss and reunion

Kumbh Mela’s crowd has often resulted in people getting lost, so much so that it has become a saying in many languages. However, 2021 saw a different aspect of this event. A 65 year old woman, lost in the 2016 crowds, found her way back to her family in the 2021 Kumbh Mela during the identity verification drive organized by the authorities. All’s well that ends well, right?

Image Source: The Unruly Traveler

You can visit the Kumbh Mela following the necessary restrictions and enjoy learning about Indian culture. Let us know if these interesting facts about the Kumbh Mela managed to pique your interest, and also give your input in the comment section below.

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