Kumbha Mela

   The Kumbha Mela (pot festival) is held once every three years, moving in rotation among four river-side sites in India: Prayag (ALLAHABAD), HARIDVAR, Ujjaini, and Nasik. The first two of these loca-tions are in Uttar Pradesh, Ujjaini is in Madhya Pradesh, and Nasik is in Maharashtra.
   The Kumbha Mela may have originated in great antiquity when various seeds were taken to river banks, dipped into the water, and then sown for a bountiful harvest. One myth of the festival’s origin begins with a pot of the nectar of immortality; it was carried away by Jayanta, the son of INDRA, with the gods and demons in hot pursuit. As he carried the pot for 12 divine days (12 human years) a little was dropped in each of the four festival locations. Hence the name Pot Festival.
   The Kumbha Mela festival at Allahabad (Prayag), held every 12th year and called the Maha (great) Kumbha Mela, is the largest festival in India and perhaps in the world. According to astrologers, the Maha Kumbha Mela takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. Millions of people assemble together at this sacred site for ceremonial proces-sions, devotional singing, religious discourses, and other special activities for the religious. Monks and holy men and women from every Hindu sect converge together at this site to participate in this sacred and festive gathering.
   Further reading: Jack Hebner and David Osborn, Kumbha Mela: The World’s Largest Act of Faith (La Jolla, Calif.: Ganesh, 1990); D. K. Roy, Kumbha: India’s Ageless Festival (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1955).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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