Also known as "the world’s most massive act of faith", Kumbh Mela is a colossal gathering of huge number of devotees at a designated spot every 12 years. The sights are simply overwhelming. Thousands upon thousands pilgrims chanting "Har Har Mahadev" and clad in saffron come to one out of four holy cities to observe this massive event. This year the Kumbh Mela is taking place at Ujjain, situated in the exotic Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Known as the divine place of Lord Mahakal, Ujjain is located on the eastern bank of River Shipra. The Kumbh Mela is considered to be the most auspicious time to take bath in the holy waters of River Shipra. Tradition has assigned a lot significance to this act. It is believed that by taking bath in these holy waters, a man can be absolved from his past sins and thus can contemplate liberation from the endless cycle of births and deaths.
History of the Kumbh Mela
The name Kumbh has been derived from the immortal celestial Pot of nectar. The significance of this festival is mentioned in the sacred Hindu texts that describe the story of how the immortal nectar was obtained.
It is said that after being cursed by the celestial rishi (Sage) Durvasa, the devtas lost all their power. The devtas, after having being deprived of their strength approached the divine Trinity of Gods (Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva) and suggested to churn the celestial Ocean of Milk that lies at a distant location of the cosmos.
Due to the massive task involved, the devtas enlisted the danavas for the exercise and agreed to share the immortal nectar upon its procurement.The great mountain Mandara was used as the churning rod while the celetial serpent Vasuki became the rope for the churning.
At last the churning of the celestial ocean began with devtas at the tail and demons at the head of Vasuki. At first the ocean produced a deadly poison called halahal which the Lord Shiva stored in His throat and thus prevented the universe from annihilation.
However after 1,000 years, the sage Dhawantari came out with the pot of the immortal nectar. Fearing that danavas might play some trick, the Devtas seized the nectar. The demons after realizing that they have been cheated gave a chase to the devtas. The chase lasted for 12 days and 12 nights during which the drops of the immortal nectar fell at four places on the Earth-Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Thus, these site became purified due to which they became the venue of the Kumbh Melas.
Since 12 days of celestial gods are said to be equivalent to the 12 years of humans, the Kumbh Mela is celebrated after every 12 years. Every 12 years, devotees gather at one of the banks of the holy rivers-River Godavari in Nasik, River Shipra in Ujjain, River Ganges in Haridwar and at confluence of River Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad. The event witness millions of devotees taking a holy dip and partaking in rituals and ceremonies in order to get rid of all their sins.
Importance of Ujjain Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela holds tremendous significance for Hindus. The event is usually seen as a rare opportunity for the devotees to cleanse themselves of all the past lives sins and attain liberation. The importance of the holy bath in the sacred rives have been greatly emphasized in the spiritual texts. Since the drops of the celestial nectar dropped in these rivers, it is said that by taking bath here, one attains total liberation or Moksha. The Ujjain festival draws people and devotees from different corners of the country and the world.
Also known as Poorna Kumbha or Simhasta Kumbha Mela, the massive event at Ujjain takes place once in every 12 years. The significance of time chosen for the festival is itself evident from the fact that the star configuration during this time is same as it was during the legendary Sagar Manthan. Bath in the holy River Shipra has a great importance. After taking the sacred bath all the devotees head on for the temple of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, which is one of the 12 most sacred Jyotirlingas, dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Holy Bathing Dates of the Ujjain Kumbh Mela, 2016
Before attending the sacred Ujjain Kumbh Mela, it is good to know about the dates and schedule. These are listed as follows:
- 22 April 2016 : Purnima First Shahi Snaan (Royal Holy Dip)
- 03 May 2016 : Vratparv Vauthini Ekadashi
- 06 May 2016 : Vaishakh Krishna Amavasya (First Pramukh Snan)
- 09 May 2016 : Shukla/Akshey Tritya (Second Pramukh Snan)
- 11 May 2016 : Shukla Panchami
- 15 May 2016 : Vrishabh Sankranti
- 17 May 2016 : Ekadashi & Pradosh Snan
- 19 May 2016 : Pradosh
- 20 May 2016 : Nursingh Jayanti
- 21 May 2016 : Purnima Main Shahi Snan
When is Simhasth Ujjain Kumbh Mela in 2016?
The Kumbh Mela at Ujjain will begin with the bath on the full moon day of the month, i.e. on 22nd April. The Mela lasts for almost a whole month and in 2016 will conclude on full moon day of 21st May. In total there are 10 days of bathing as a part of the celebrations of the Kumbh. The Purnima (Full moon day), month of Baisakha, bright fortnight, the brihaspati (Jupitor) in Leo, the sun in the arise (Mesha Rasi), vyatipata yoga, moon in the Libra (Tula rasi), holy Ksetra Avantika and pious Mondays are the most important and sacred days to take bath in the holy waters.
How to Reach Kumbh Mela Venue in Ujjain
The nearest airport for reaching Ujjain is Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore, which is situated at a distance of 57 kilometers from the city. Frequent flights of all major carries arrive from important cities and towns of the country. The airport is well connected by buses, taxis and cabs that take the tourists to different parts of Ujjain.
Ujjain has a railway station of its own by the name Ujjain Junction. The terminal is connected to major towns and cities within the state and across the county. It is located approximately 1 kilometer from the city center. Buses, Taxis and Cabs are available from the station to locations within the Ujjain City.
Good quality metaled roads connect Ujjain to major locations within the Madhya Pradesh State and nearby locations outside it. Conveyances include the state owned MPSRTC buses as well private, deluxe and Volvo buses that take you from different locations to the holy city and vice versa. Besides private cabs and taxis are always present to visit Ujjain or commute within the city.
Things to be kept in Mind
Ujjain Kumbh Festival is celebrated during the summer months. At this time the weather in the Ujjain City can be extremely hot with temperatures shooting up as high as 41 degrees. Thus, visitors are advised to have a thorough check on accommodation and important items. They need to keep themselves hydrated at all times and abstain from skipping the meals.
And, if you are planning to camp on site, then you may check-out the Price Guide for Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016 to make sure your journey to visit "Aastha ka Kumbh".