Kumbh Mela, what is it

Kumbh Mela, what is it

This Indian religious ritual recognized as a UNESCO heritage constitutes a great pilgrimage to the sacred rivers. It occurs cyclically and represents the largest festival of Indian sacredness.

Kumbh Mela

The largest spiritual gathering in history and one of the oldest still existing. The mythical Kumbh Mela , an opportunity to meet yogis and holy men and take a bath with them in the sacred rivers of India to cleanse one’s karma and consecrate oneself to inner research.

  • What is Kumbh Mela
  • A ritual heritage of humanity
  • The types of Kumbh Mela
  • The manifestation of Indian sacredness



What is Kumbh Mela

Every twelve years in India the largest gathering of humanity is celebrated , not only in the context of religious events, and its name is  Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela , or the gathering of the mythological “vase” that contains the ambrosia of the immortality or amrita .


It is a centuries-old spiritual gathering, which takes place in different versions with different recurrences, but in any case there are tens of millions of yogis and faithful (in 2001 they were 60 million) who gather in the chosen places. Each time there are tales of yogis, sadhus and gurus of almost mythological fame who leave their multi-year retreats to mingle with the crowd on this occasion. 


A ritual heritage of humanity

UNESCO has recognized the Kumbh Mela as a respectable place among the oral and intangible heritages of humanity. According to many faithful and scholars, the Kumbh Mela celebrates a Hindu mythological event, the famous churning
of the ocean of milk
 , during which gods on one side and demons on the other, used a gigantic snake coiled around a mountain in turn placed on the shell of an immense turtle that was nothing more than a form of the supreme god, to bring to light all the divine treasures hidden in the depths of the mythical ocean of milk , including the precious jar containing the nectar of immortality.


The types of Kumbh Mela

The custom of making ablutions in the sacred river (Ganges or others) is very ancient and dates back to the Rig Veda, the oldest text known to mankind. The Kumbh Mela represents the maximum apex of this practice and over time three types have developed. 


The first is the Purna Kumbh Mela or “Complete Kumbh Mela”, which takes place every 12 years at a specific predetermined site. The second is the Ardh Kumbh Mela or “Half Kumbh Mela”, which takes place every 6 years in the localities of Alahabad (in Uttar Pradesh) and Hardiwar (in Uttarakhand). Finally, there is the Maha Kumbh Mela or “Great Kumbh Mela”, which takes place every 12 Purna Kumbh Mela, that is, every 144 years. The last one took place in 2013, which means the next one will take place in 2157.


The manifestation of Indian sacredness

Of course, an event of this magnitude cannot fail to attract thousands of tourists from all over the world every time, ready to photograph incredible individuals and experience an unreproducible atmosphere. But since the Kumbh Mela is a festival that lasts about a week, it is obvious to find within it not only river ablutions but a whole “life in miniature”: camps, food of the most varied types, music, theater, dances, rituals, encounters with holy men and a thousand other facets of Indian sacredness . 


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