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Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela Hindu Festival India

  • Kumbh Mela is actually a group Hindu pilgrimage during which Hindus assemble to have a bath in a holy river. Customarily, four Kumbh Melas are acknowledged: the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Ujjain Simhastha, the Allahabad Kumbh Mela, and the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha. These 4 funfairs are organised periodically at one of the following locations by sequence: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik district and Ujjain. The leading carnival sites are situated on the shores of a river: the Shipra at Ujjain, the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the union (Sangam) of the Yamuna and the Ganges and the invisible Sarasvati at Allahabad, and the Godavari at Nashik. Having an immersion in these rivers is believed to rinse out a person of all evils.
  • On any specified location, the Kumbh Mela is organised once in 12 years. The fairs at Ujjain and Nashik are commemorated in the same year or one year spaced out. The precise date is decided as per a blend of zodiac locations of the Moon, the Sun and the Jupiter. At Ujjain and Nashik, the Mela might be organised when a planet is in Leo (in Hindu astrology Simha); in this instance, it’s also called Simhastha. At Allahabad and Haridwar, an Ardha ("half ") Kumbh Mela is organised every 6th year, a Maha ("Great") Kumbh Mela is organised after 144 years.
  • The precise age of the carnival is undefined. As per primitive Hindu myths, Lord Vishnu dripped drops of Amrita (the drink of deathlessness) at 4 places, while shifting it in a kumbha (jar). These 4 locations are known as the contemporary locations of the Kumbh Mela. The name "Kumbh Mela" means "kumbha fair". It’s called "Kumbh" in Sanskrit, in Hindi and some other Indian languages. Usually it’s called "Kumbha".
  • The carnival is among the biggest peaceful congregations in the world, and believed as the "world's biggest gathering of devout pilgrims". There isn’t any exact method of finding out the quantity of pilgrims, and the approximations of the quantity of pilgrims taking a bath on the most fortunate day may differ. An assessed 120 million people took part in Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013 in Allahabad during a two-month period, including more than 30 million on 10 February 2013.
Mythological Origin
  • As per primitive Hindu myths, the origin of the carnival may be found in the very old myth of samudr manthan. The myth speaks of a fight between the Asuras and Devas for the drink of everlasting life, amrit. During samudr manthan, or stirring of the ocean, amrit was created and stored in a kumbha (jar). To avert the asuras (malicious beings) from snatching the amrit, a heavenly carrier flew away with the pot. In one type of the myth, the carrier of the kumbha is the heavenly doctor Dhanavantari, who halts at 4 locations where the Kumbh Mela is commemorated. In other re-tellings, the carrier is Mohini, Indra or Garuda, who drops the amrit at four locations.
  • Although numerous ancient texts, which include the different Puranas, point out the samdur manthan myth, none of them points out spilling of the amrit at 4 locations and the Kumbh Mela. For that reason, many scholars think that the samudr manthan myth has been related to the Kumbh Mela fairly recently, so as to demonstrate theological authority for it.

Kumbh Mela Hindu Festival India


  • In ancient Indian texts, there are many references to river-side carnivals, however the precise age of the Kumbh Mela is ambiguous. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang mentions that several hundreds bathed at the convergence of rivers, to wash away their sins. As per some scholars, this is first enduring historic account of the Kumbh Mela, which happened in Allahabad in 644 CE. On the other hand, Australian researcher Kama Maclean points out that the Xuanzang reference is regarding an occasion which took place every 5 years (and not 12 years), and could have been a Buddhist festival (because Harsha was a Buddhist king).
  • The Kumbh Mela of Haridwar seems to be the original Kumbh Mela, because it’s organised as per the zodiacal sign "Kumbha" (Aquarius), and for the reason that there are numerous references to a 12-year cycle for it.
  • The 1st British reference to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad is in an 1868 report, that refers the requirement for improved sanitation and pilgrimage controls.
  • At Ujjain, the Kumbh Mela started in the 18th century, when Ranoji Shinde, the Maratha ruler invited abstainers from Nashik to Ujjain for a local carnival.
  • The Kumbh Melas were managed by the sadhus before the East India Company rule. The sadhus were immensely militarized, and also took part in trade. The Melas occasionally turned violent. A copper plate engraving of the Maratha Peshwa at the 1789 Nashik Kumbh Mela declares that 12,000 abstainers expired in a fighting between Vaishnavite bairagis and Shaivite sanyasis. The fights decreased after the Company administration strictly restricted the trader-warrior part of the sadhus.
  • As per an 1858 report of the Haridwar Kumbh Mela by Robert Montgomery Martin, the people at the fair included from many religions and races. In addition to priests, religious mendicants, and soldiers, the fair was attended by many traders, including horse traders from Persia, Arabia, Turkistan, Kabul, and Bukhara. A number of Muslim Nawabs, Sikh rulers and Hindu rajas visited the fair. Some Christian priests also preached at the Mela.
  • The Kumbh Melas were causes of outbreaks of the pandemics and cholera. In order to upgrade the sanitary situations at the Melas, the British administrators tried their best, nevertheless thousands of people expired of cholera at these carnivals till the mid-20th century.
  • Many stampedes have taken place at the Kumbh Melas. A stampede killed 430 people at Haridwar. To avoid more stampedes, the Company government started wide-ranging infrastructure projects, including road widening and building of new ghats. The deadliest stampede occurred in 1954 in Allahabad which resulted in death of 800 people.


  • By tradition, the carnivals at the following 4 places are accepted as Kumbh Melas: Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Trimbak-Nashik. In the Nashik district the Kumbh Mela was initially organised at Trimbak, however after a 1789 fight between Saivites and Vaishnavites over priority of bathing, the Vaishnavites' bathing place shifted to Ramkund in Nashik city by the Maratha Peshwa. But the Shaivites continue to consider Trimbak as the correct site.
  • At other places, priests have also tried to boost the standing of their tirtha by changing the Kumbh myths. The locations whose carnivals have been declared as "Kumbh Mela" contain Varanasi, Rajim (Rajim Kumbh), Kumbh Akonam (Mahamaham), Tirumakudal Narsipur, and Vrindavan.
  • Dates of celebration of each site are determined in advance as per a special grouping of zodiacal positions of the Moon, the Sun and Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) as shown in the following table:










Jupiter in Aquarius, Sun in Aries


Prayag (Allahabad)


Ganga and Yamuna


Jupiter in Aries, Sun and Moon in Capricorn; or Jupiter in Taurus and Sun in Capricorn






Jupiter in Leo; or Jupiter, Sun and Moon in Cancer on lunar conjunction






Jupiter in Leo, Sun in Aries; or Jupiter, Sun, and Moon in Libra on Kartik Amavasya


Kumbh Mela Hindu Festival India