Recent edition of Kumbh Mela is expected to generate a revenue of Rs 1.2 lakh crore for Uttar Pradesh Government, according to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The UP government has allocated Rs 4,200 crores, the costliest allocation ever made for the smooth course of the religious gathering.
The origin of Kumbh Mela was transcribed by the 8th-century philosopher Shankara. The founding myth of the Kumbh Mela points out to the Puranas (compilation of ancient legends).
It recounts how Gods and demons fought over the sacred pitcher (Kumbh) of Amrit (nectar of immortality) called the Ratna of Samudra Manthan.
It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu (disguised as the enchantress ‘Mohini’) whisked the Kumbh out of the grasp of the covetous demons who had tried to claim it. As he took it heavenwards, a few drops of the precious nectar fell on the four sacred sites we know as Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag.
The flight and the following pursuit is said to have lasted twelve divine days which is equivalent to twelve human years and therefore, the Mela is celebrated every twelve years, staggered at each of the four sacred sites in this cycle.
The corresponding rivers are believed to have turned into Amrit at the cosmic moment, giving pilgrims the chance to bathe in the essence of purity, auspiciousness, and immortality.
Kumbh Mela, in Hinduism, is a religious pilgrimage that is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years. The geographical location of Kumbh Mela spans over four locations and the Mela site keeps rotating between one of the four pilgrimages on four sacred rivers as listed below:
Haridwar on the Ganges in Uttarakhand
Ujjain on the Shipra in Madhya Pradesh
Nashik on the Godavari in Maharashtra
Prayagraj at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati in Uttar Pradesh
Each site’s celebration is based on a distinct set of astrological positions of the Sun, the Moon, and the Jupiter.
The celebrations occur at the exact moment when these positions are fully occupied, as it is considered to be the holiest time in Hinduism.
The Kumbh Mela is an event that intrinsically encapsulates the science of astronomy, astrology, spirituality, ritualistic traditions, and socio-cultural customs and practices, making it extremely rich in knowledge.
Pilgrims to the Kumbh Mela come from all sections of the religion ranging from Sadhus (saints) and Naga Sadhus who practice ‘sadhana’ and keenly follow a strict path of spiritual discipline, to Hermits who leave their seclusion and come to visit the civilization only during the Kumbh Mela, to seekers of spirituality, and to common people practicing Hinduism.
During the Kumbh Mela, a number of ceremonies take place; the traditional procession of Akharas called ‘Peshwai’ on elephant backs, horses and chariots, the shining swords and rituals of Naga Sadhus during ‘Shahi Snaan’, and many other cultural activities that attract millions of pilgrims to attend the Kumbh Mela.
The Kumbh Mela has been inscribed on the list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2017. This reflects the significance of Kumbh worldwide.
Kumbh also signifies the coming together of people from various cultures across the world and participating in the largest peaceful congregation of humanity.