Crazy and chaotic are the words that best define the Kumbh Mela. Amidst the intermittent chanting of mantras, the heart rendering dance of the Aghoris and the holy ghats lit up with fiery diyas, you will have no chance but to go with the flow. The Kumbh Mela, will not just lend you with a day’s feeling but a mind boggling experience of a lifetime.
The largest religious gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela brings Hindu holy men together to discuss their faith and disseminate information about their religion. It's attended by millions of people each day.
Why the Kumbh is celebrated?
Kumbh means pot or pitcher. Mela means festival or fair. Hence, the Kumbh Mela means festival of the pot. It specifically relates to the pot of nectar in Hindu mythology.
Legend has it that the gods once lost their strength. In order to regain it, they agreed with the demons to churn the primordial ocean of milk for amrit (the nectar of immortality). This was to be shared equally between them. However, a fight broke out, which went on for 12 human years. During the battle, the celestial bird, Garuda, flew away with the Kumbh that held the nectar. Drops of nectar are believed to have fallen in the places that the Kumbh Mela is now held -- Prayagraj (Allahabad), Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain.
The Hindu devotees throng these places with a belief that a dip in the waters of the sacred rivers will wash away all their sins.
For the first time in a century, Haridwar Kumbh to take place on 11th year and not 12th; know why:
After a span of 83 years, this opportunity is coming in this year, earlier, such co-incidence happened in the year 1760, 1885 and 1938..
Kumbh Melas come after twelve years. Jupiter, the king of the planets, enters Aquarius after every twelve years. The speed of admission varies every twelve years. This difference is reduced by one year after the passage of seven Kumbhas.
Shaahi Snaan Dates, when did I went, what did I saw on Shahi Snan?
1. First Shahi Snan- 11th March (Maha Shivratri)
2. Second Shahi Snan- 12th April (Somvati Amavasya)
3. Third Shahi Snan- 14th April (Makar Sankranti )
4. Fourth Shahi Snan- 27th April (Baisakh Purnima)
“I went for the 1st Shahi Snan”
Maha Shivratri (First Shahi Snan): It was 8 in the morning when I heard a sound of a Helicopter in my room, and then what I saw can’t be expressed in words. It was an out of world experience. The chantings, the celebrations, the Peshwai on the roads. Helicopters welcoming the Sadhus with Flowers who were going for the holy dip in the Ganges on Har ki Pauri.
People on the roads were made to stand on sides with the ropes by the security people and the 13 Akhadas went to take this holy dip till 4 pm one by one.
It was so surreal to experience the holy chanting, especially ‘Har Har Mahadev’ throughout the day. One can only experience/feel this thing by being there only. Watching that, I went to this thinking that, ‘the truth will be alive in this world till the time our Sadhus and the Sanatam Dharm are there’, so these things are something which the govt. should definitely help preserving for India.
Why go 2 days before the Shaahi Snaan, where to Stay and the main attractions of Kumbh?
1. Meeting Naga Sadhus visiting their Akhadas: one can meet the Naga Sadhus in the Kumbh Mela. You can click their pictures, talk to them and get an insight into their lives and experiences after asking for their permission. However, if they refuse, then it is advised to respect their decision and leave them alone.
Initially, there were 4 Akharas which would take part in the Kumbh Mela. But, due to many ideological differences, these 4 Akharas were further divided into 13 categories, mainly of Shaiv, Vaishnav and Udasin sects.
Some of the Akhadas: Juna Akhada, Niranjani Akhada, Kinnar Akhada etc.
2. Parking and Hotel issues in Haridwar: The main Shahi Snan event happens at Har ki Pauri (though we don’t get entry there on the snan date unless you’ve Media/press pass) and to enjoy the vibe of the place, Peshwai Yatra and celebrations one should come to Haridwar atleast 2 days before and get sorted with the Car Parkings and Hotels on the main Road.
3. Take a walk around the City: Right now, the whole city is painted with the vibrant colors. Almost all the walls: Flyovers, Under bridges, bus stand & buses, even the washrooms etc. are painted welcoming the Kumbh in Hardwar. One can also enjoy meeting the Sadhus sitting on the road, click pictures with them, eat at some favorite restaurants of Haridwar (Chotiwala, Mohan Ji Puri waale, Sardarji etc.)
Is it safe in COVID 19?
No, there were SOP’s released by the Govt. regarding the Covid Negative report, but nobody checked the same. Now, as per the new rules, there’s no Covid Negative report required.
I went there with a lot of Risk, wearing 2 masks on my face. The streets were so crowded that a person with crowd phobhia cannot survive there. Even I was not able to see the Aarti for 2 days continuously because of the crowd.
There were continuous announcements all over Haridwar regarding wearing of the masks and social distancing though, but it’s not possible with millions of people gathered at a single place. Our safety is in our own hands, so try sanitize yourself regularly.
Parking, Washrooms and Ghats facilities?
There are parkings far from Har ki Pauri road but one has to walk a lot till their hotels. No Proper parking facilities near Har Ki Pauri Road for Cars and Bikes. I went on my bike and parked it in from of my Hotel, so make sure your hotel has one. After a certain point on the Har Ki Pauri road, bikes are not allowed, so make sure you’re prepared for that.
Clean washrooms facilities are everywhere in the Har ki Pauri main road, so that’s something is really appreciated.
Ghats are now secured with the Iron Railings so it’s safe to take the snan and a person cannot go beyond a certain point.
What are the security arrangements?
I seriously respect the security personnels there for handling the crowd so well. They are present everywhere in and out haridwar, on the ghats, roads, handling Peshwai Yatra, snan etc. I had a talk with a few and some of them (ladies and gents both) are working day and night to handle the people on the frontend risking their life. I pray Mahadev should keep them safe from COVID and above that, the crowd.