Prayagraj (erstwhile Allahabad) is reincarnated with life by the highly religious Hindu festival of Ardh Kumbh Mela, held every six years. Multitudes of devotees from all over the country make their way for this pilgrimage that is considered a shrine of Hindu religion. This year, the grand and magnanimous Mela, recognised even by UNESCO as ‘an intangible cultural heritage of humanity’, is again preparing for the footfall of millions of devotees. If you are one of them, we have all the details rounded up for you for the Ardh Kumbh Mela, 2019. By Shubhanjana Das
The Ardh Kumbh will be held from January 14th to March 4th. The important dates include:
- Makar Sankranti– 15-01-2019/Tuesday
- Paush Purnima– 21-01-2019/Monday
- Mauni Amavasya (Somvati)- 04-02-2019/Monday
- Basant Panchami-10-02-2019/Sunday
- Maghi Purnima– 19-02-2019/Tuesday
- Maha Shivratri– 04-03-2019/Monday
Things To Expect At Kumbh Mela 2019:
1. Shahi Snan (The Royal Bath):
Perhaps the most auspicious ritual of this grand Mela is the dip in the Sangam, the confluence of the two holy rivers, Ganga and Yamuna when saints from different akharas (religious groups) undertake the Rajyogi Snan. It is only after their bathing that the common people can take a dip in the holy waters.
Important dates for the Rajyogi or Shahi Snan are:
- First Shahi Snan– 14/15 January
- Second Shahi Snan– 4th February (the main Shahi Snan)
- Third Shahi Snan– 10th February
2. Akharas And The Sadhus:
The akhara is the place where the saints from the Vaishnavite and Shaivite akharas practice their religious rituals. The former are the followers of Lord Vishnu while the latter worship Shiva. Saints with ash smeared on their bodies with long, matted hair, wearing saffron-coloured clothes, chanting religious texts and giving spiritual speeches to the devotees contribute to the spellbinding vibe of this place. P.S. The procession of the sadhus when they arrive for the Mela is as mesmerising as it is unforgettable.
The satsang is the golden opportunity for every religious Hindu who is keen on listening to the saints preach about spirituality and Hinduism. The satsangs last for hours and are a very crucial part of every Kumbh Mela. There are multiple halls and ashrams for the people to offer prayers and sit for hours listening to the saints talk about spirituality and religion in this sacred gathering.
4. Communal Meals:
When devotees join for a sacred pilgrimage, everyone is served equally, without any discrimination. This is displayed gloriously in the practice of serving langar (communal meals) and prasad (sacred offerings) where humble Indian food is served to all without cost. In the community area meant for serving meals, devotees and saints come together to eat the sacred offerings under the blessing of God at this highly pious site.
Things To Keep In Mind:
Clothing– The temperature throughout the Mela will be quite mild. However, if you are planning to go in January, make sure you carry a few sets of light woollens. Also, pack enough loose-fitted cotton clothes for comfort and mobility.
Accommodation– There is a number of standard as well as luxurious camps available, which provide accommodation options to the devotees near the bathing ghat. Make sure to book your accommodation well ahead of time as they sell out like hot cakes. If you’re not too keen on staying in camps, opt for hotels in and around Prayag.
Medication: Make sure you carry enough medicines, anti-bacterial, as well as sanitary products to avoid catching diseases prone in crowded areas. Dry yourself as soon as possible if you’re taking a dip in the river.
Safety: It is advised to not leave your accommodation during late hours. Take down emergency contacts of local people or your hotel manager in case you need their help making your way around. If you’re travelling with your family, make sure you stay close to each other. You wouldn’t want to be lost amidst millions of people. Keep your valuables to yourself and always be cautious of your surroundings.
How To Reach Prayagraj:
Air: Flights ply on a regular basis from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru to Prayagraj.
Rail: Prayagraj is connected by railways from Delhi, Mumbai, as well as Bengaluru.
Road: Prayagraj is 792 km from Kolkata, 701 km from Delhi, 1,384 km from Mumbai and 1,726 km from Bengaluru.