Millions of people, who gather without any invitation, notice or summon from all over the globe to participate in the stream of knowledge and spirituality on the banks of sacred rivers is Kumbhamela. Kumbha is a sanskrit word for pitcher, sometimes referred to as the kalasha. Kumbh as also a zodiac sign for Aquarius in Indian astrology . Mela means a gathering or a meet or simply a fair. The Kumbh celebration rotates at four places in India on certain celestial alignment of traversing planets. Millions of devotees baths into the sacred rivers with belief that it cleanse their souls leading to salvation.
In Naardiya purana, Shiva Purana, Brahma Purana it is mentioned regarding events of Kumbh that Kumbh festival starts from Haridwar. After Haridwar it is celebrated at Prayag, Nashik-Trimbakeshwar and Ujjain. It is celebrated at these places after every 12 years .While Ardha Kumbha (which is celebrated after every six years) is held at Haridwar and Allahabad.
Kumbh Parva in Haridwar
Haridwar is one of the most sacred cities of India. Haridwar has enormous religious significance and a key pilgrimage town
for the Hindus. Haridwar (Hardwar) is located on the foothills of Shivaliks of Himalayan Range in the state of Uttarakhand. In acient scriptures Haridwar was also known as Mokshadwar. Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar when the Jupiter enters in Aquarius or Kumbh (zodiac sign) and Sun and Moon in Aries and Saggittarius respectively The last Kumbh Mela was celebrated in Haridwar from Makar Sankranti i.e. 14 January 2010 to Shakh Pournima Snan, 28 April 2010. The next Kumbh Mela will be held in Haridwar in the year 2022 .
Kumbh Parva in Allahabad
When Jupiter is in Taurus or Vrishabha and the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn or Makra, the Kumbh is held at Prayag (Allahabad) on the vast ground of Sangam i e. confluence of Rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati.It is the largest Kumbh in terms of number of Sadhus and Devotees.
Kumbh Parva in Nashik- Trimbakeshwar
Trimbakeshwar is abode of one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is situated at the foothills of Bramhagiri hills of Sahyadri ranges about 30 kms away from Nashik.The sacred Godavari originates from the Bramhagiri hills. It is said that Godavari emerges on the earth due to tapa of sage Gautma. Nashik is also called as Dakshin Kashi as it has many temples like Kashi (Banaras). It is believed to be the place where Lord Rama lived during his exile.Both the cities are important in Hindu pilgrimage and considered among holiest cities. When the Jupiter into the zodiac sign Simha and the Sun and Moon in Cancer, Simhastha Kumbhmela is held at Nashik- Trimbakeshwar after every twelve years.
Kumbh Parva in Ujjain
'Ujjain' is also known as Avantika, Avantikapuri is an ancient city situated on the eastern bank of Kshipra river in Madhya Pradesh. It is also home to the Mahakaleswar Jyotirlinga.means the 'city of victory' (earlier known as Ujjayini) and is located on the western boundary of Madhya Pradesh,. Ujjain is one of the holiest cities in India. When Jupiter is in Leo and the Sun and Moon in Aries, Kumbh Mela is held at Ujjain.
The great sage Gautam made Trimbakeshwar as his residence. The Brahmans requested the sage to bring Ganga on earth that they might bathe in her purifying waters, but he refused. One day Parvati sent a cow to graze in the field where sage Gautam used to cultivate rice for his daily use. Gautam drove off the cow and gave it a blow with a stick from which it died. Anxious to cleanse from the sin of cow killing the sage began to perform to propitiate Lord Mahadeva. The god, pleased with his penance, released Ganga from his matted hair and striking her against a stone gave her leave to go down on earth and Godavari originates on Bramhagiri hills at Trimbakeshwar.It is considered as sacred river of South hence also called as Dakshin Ganga.
कृते लक्षव्दयातीते मान्धातरि शके सति ।कूर्मे चैवावतारे च सिंहस्थे च बृहस्पतौ ।।
माघे ममासे सिते पक्षे दशम्यां सौम्यवासरे ।माध्यान्हे तु समायाता गौतमी पुण्यपावनी ।। स्कंदपुराण)
It is mentioned in Skandapurana that the time of descent of the river Godavari was in the tortoise incarnation of Vishnu, during the era of King Mandhanta after two hundred thousand years of the Krita or first cycle had passed . The planet Jupiter was in zodiac sign simha at that time.
गा ज्ञान ददाति सा गोदा । गौ गौतमधनो: जीवदानं सा गोदा ।।
It is means river Godavari imparts knowledge it reliving wished sage Gautama from sin of cow.
तीर्थनि नदयश्च तथा समुद्रा ।क्षेत्राण्यरण्यानि तयाश्रमाश्च ।।
वसन्नि सर्वाणिच वर्षमेरुं ।गोदावरी सिंहगते सुरेज्ये ।। (स्कंदपुराण)
As long as the planet Jupiter remains in the zodiac Simha i.e. for one year, until then all rivers, oceans, tirthas, Rushis, Maharshis etc. abodes on the bank of river Godavari
Rituals of Kumbh
Kumbh Mela, is the largest human gathering which is attended by millions of people on a earth irrespective of all worldly barriers of caste, creed, region. The Kumbh Mela has wielded a mesmeric influence over the minds and the imagination of the ordinary Indian.
Devotees believe simply by bathing in the sacred Godavari is freed from their past sins (karma), and thus one becomes eligible for liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized.
Kumbh Mela (especially the Prayag Kumbh Mela) is the most sacred of all the Hindu pilgrimages. Millions of holy men and women (saints , monks, and sadhus) attend this spectacle of faith.