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(1) Pitcher.   (2) Kalash.

(3) Kumbh Melaa. The name of a fair.

Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh (half Kumbh) fairs. Kumbh fair is  one of the largest religious fair of India and Hindoos. It is also one of the greatest and the holiest of all events. This falls at four places - Haridwaar, Prayaag,  Naasik, and Ujjain on the banks of four rivers - Gangaa at Haridwaar, Trivenee or Sangam at Prayaag, Godaavaree at Naasik, and Kshipraa (Sipraa) at Ujjain. It starts from Makar Sankraanti day, on January 14 and ends on Mahaa Shiv Raatri day in February.

It falls every three years at one of the four places, thus returning to each of the four locations every 12 years. An Ardh-Kumbh, falls after 6 years of the Kumbh or Poorn Kumbh only at two places - Haridwaar and Prayaag, because it falls only where Gangaa River flows. This nexus of cosmic energy converges every 144 years bringing dramatic changes in the Destiny of humanity. This event is commemorated every three years held at each Teerth in turn. But the biggest one is held every 12 years and is called Mahaa-Kumbh.

According to astrologers, when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries, the holy event of Kumbh Melaa begins. It is believed that during this period, the passage from Earth to other
higher planets is open, and the soul can easily attain the celestial world. Thus by bathing in the holy river, the past sins are washed off and the soul attains Moksh (becomes eligible for liberation from the
cycle of birth and death). People take ritual baths in the holy river at a predetermined time forgetting the extreme temperatures. This river offers purity, wealth and fertility, and washes away the sins of
those who bathe in it.

The history of these fairs is traceable to 7th century BC, but the written mention of it is found in the records of a Chinese traveler Huaan Tsaang during the reign of King Harsh Vardhan (644 AD). Its next mention is in 1822, when the Melaa was empty because of the Melaa tax. Information on the number of pilgrims then can be found for 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1989 and 2001.

City                Mahaa Kumbh    Ardh Kumbh        Months
Haridwaar       2010                    2004              Mar-Apr 
Prayaag           2013                    2007              Jan-Feb
Ujjain             2016                    2010                Apr-May 
Naasik            2015                    2009               Jul-Sep

1998 (Apr 14)                        Kumbh Melaa          in Haridwaar
2001 (Jan)                            Ardh Kumbh Melaa   in Prayaag
2003 (Jul 27-Sep 7)             Kumbh Mela             in Naasik
2004 (Mar-Apr)                   Ardh Kumbh Melaa   in Haridwaar
2007 (Jan 3-Feb 26)            Ardh Kumbh Mela     in Prayaag
2016  (April 22-May 21)       Mahaa Kumbh Melaa

The Legend - Saagar Manthan and Aftermath
The legend says that once Daitya Raaj Bali defeated Indra and took over his kingdom and started living there. Now Indra got worried and went to their Guru Brihaspati Jee along with other Devtaa. He advised them to seek guidance from Vishnu, so all came to Vishnu. Vishnu said - "At this time the stars are not favorable to you, so you go and extend friendship with Daitya. Both churn the Sea and take out Amrit. After drinking Amrit you will be invincible and then nobody will be able to defeat you. I will help you in this endeavor." So Indra went to Bali, extended friendship and made him agreed to churn the sea. Bali was very happy to hear the proposal that Ditya will also get the share in Amrit.

Both made the Mandaraachal Parvat as the churning rod, Vaasuki Naag as churning rope and started churning the Sea. Vishnu supported the Parvat by assuming Kashchap Avataar and keeping it on his back. When Amrit came out both started quarreling for it. So again Vishnu assumed Mohinee Avataar and distributed Amrit to both, but he did not give Amrit to Daitya, only to Devtaa. In the meantime Raahu Daitya guessed this trick of Mohinee and he sat in the row of Devtaa assuming the form of a Devtaa to drink Amrit. As Mohinee gave him Amrit, Devtaa recognized him as Daitya and shouted that he was a Daitya. Immediately Mohinee kept the Amrit pitcher down, took His Chakra and cut his neck. But by that time Raahu had drank Amrit so he did not die and his both parts - head and trunk, became immortal as Raahu and Ketu. Later Brahmaa Jee gave him the status of planets.

Seeing all this, immediately Garud Jee picked the pitcher and flew in the sky. Some Daitya also followed him to snatch the pitcher, but he continuously flew till he came back to Vishnu. This chase continued for 12 long Divine days - 12 years on Prithvi. During this continuous flight he got tired so he kept the pitcher at four places - at Haridwaar, Prayaag, Naasik, and Ujjain. In the process of keeping and picking it up, a few drops of Amrit spilled from the pitcher. As his flight took 12 Divine days, he rested at these places every after three Divine days - three years of Prithvi.

Since then when the planets align in the same position pilgrims gather at these places to commemorate the event and to get the effect of Amrit every three years. This event coincides with one round of Brihaspati (Jupiter) through the Zodiac - that is 12 years - that is Mahaa Kumbh day.

In Prayaag it takes place when Brihaspati (Jupiter) enters the Vrishabh Raashi (Taurus), while the Sun enters Makar Raashi (Capricorn). The major bath takes place on the day when the Moon enters Makar Raashi.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 06/18/11