Q: What is Kumbh Mela?
Ans: Kumbh Mela is a major pilgrimage of Hindus. It is the largest religious gathering of Hindus held four times over the course of 12 years at 4 different locations that are situated on the bank of the sacred rivers. Prayagraj (at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati Rivers), Ujjain (River Shipra), Haridwar (River Ganga) and Nasik (River Godavari) are the four destinations.
Q: Why is Kumbh Mela celebrated?
Ans: It is believed, the nectar from the pot fell at four locations – Prayagraj, Ujjain, Haridwar, and Nasik during an epic battle between the gods and the demons. At these four places, Kumbh Mela takes place. The Hindu devotees throng these places with a belief that a dip in the waters of the sacred rivers will wash away all their sins.
Q: What is Ardh Kumbh Mela?
Ans: The Ardh Kumbh Mela (Half Kumbh Mela) is held every 6 years in two different locations, Allahabad and Haridwar. Ardh means ‘half’ which is interpreted as half of 12 years.
Q: What is Mahakumbh?
Ans: The Maha Kumbh Mela is held every 144 years at Prayagraj (Allahabad), after the completion of 12 Purna Kumbh Melas. The Purna Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years and hence, the Maha Kumbh Mela is held every 144 years (12*12=144).
Q: Why is Kumbh Mela held every 12 years?
Ans: The war between the gods and the demons over the possession of the Nectar of Immortality lasted for 12 divine days which are equivalent to 12 human years. Therefore, the Kumbh Mela or more commonly called Purna Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years at the 4 holy sites.
Q: In which places is the Kumbh Mela celebrated?
Ans: The Kumbh Mela is held in Prayagraj (at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati Rivers), Nasik (River Godavari), Ujjain (River Shipra) and Haridwar (River Ganga).
Q: What is the religious significance of Kumbh Mela for devotees of Hinduism?
Ans: The Hindu devotees believe that a visit to the auspicious Kumbh Mela and a dip in the river will cleanse them from all their sins.
Q: What are the main attractions of Kumbh Mela?
Ans: The major attractions of the Kumbh Mela are: a holy bath in the sacred river that is believed to cleanse one from all their sins; the sacred Aartis on the banks of the river accompanied by the prayers and hymns chanted by the priests, the Pravachan, Kirtan, Mahaprasad and the Naga Sadhus.
Q: Who are Naga Sadhus?
Ans: The Naga Sadhus are the followers of Lord Shiva. They don’t wear any clothes and live an ascetic life having relinquished all their desires for body, comfort and material.
Q: Where do Naga Sadhus live?
Ans: The Naga Sadhus live in the caves of Himalayas, away from the contact of human civilization and meditate there in order to seek enlightenment and salvation.
Q: Can we meet Naga Sadhus?
Ans: Yes, one can meet the Naga Sadhus in the Kumbh Mela. You can click their pictures, talk to them and get an insight into their lives and experiences after asking for their permission. However, if they refuse, then it is advised to respect their decision and leave them alone.
Q: Why don’t Naga Sadhus wear clothes?
Ans: The Naga Sadhus have given away all their desires for material and body and live an ascetic life in order to seek spiritual enlightenment and salvation. This is the reason behind them not wearing any clothes which are a symbol of attachment to the materialistic possessions of the world.
Q: Why do Naga Sadhus smear ashes (bhasma) on their bodies?
Ans: The Naga Sadhus smear their bodies with the ashes of the burned dead bodies to signify their devotion to the Lord Shiva.
Q: What are Akharas?
Ans: The Akharas are the places of congregation for the saints. They were originally developed by Adi Shankarcharya in the 8th century and were divided into categories – Astradhari (intelligentsia) and Shastradhari (weapon-bearer). The Akharas are also learning centers where the devotees of Hinduism can learn about the various teachings and philosophies of the Hindu way of life as well as seek the blessings of the saints.
Q: How many Akharas take part in the Kumbh Mela?
Ans: Initially, there were 4 Akharas which would take part in the Kumbh Mela. But, due to many ideological differences, these 4 Akharas were further divided into 13 categories, mainly of Shaiv, Vaishnav and Udasin sects.
Q: What are the main bathing dates for Kumbh 2021?
First Bath: Makar Sankranti (14 Jan 2021)
Second Bath: Mauni Amavasya (11 Feb 2021)
Third Bath: Vasant Panchami (16 Feb 2021)
Fourth Bath: Ram Navami (21 Apr 2021)
First Shahi Bath: Maha Shivratri (11 March 2021)
Second Shahi Bath: Somvati Amamvasya (12 April 2021)
Third Shahi Bath: Baisakhi (14 April 2021)
Fourth Shahi Bath: Chaitra Purnima (27 April 2021)
Q: What is the nearest airport, railway station and bus terminal to Kumbh Mela, Haridwar?
Ans: The nearest Airport to Haridwar is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun (41 km away). The airport has direct flights operating from Dehradun to major cities like Delhi and Mumbai and connecting flights to all the cities of India. One can hire a cab from outside the airport to go to Haridwar.
Haridwar has its own railway station that connects it to the rest of the country. It enjoys good rail connectivity with the major cities of India like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Dehradun, Jaipur, Patna and many others.
Haridwar also enjoys good road connectivity with Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand. Frequent state-run and private buses operate between these places.
Q: What about covid related regulations?
Ans : As per reports, Magistrate Deepak Rawat said that whoever wants to attend the festival will have to first register. He will be keeping an eye on the registration. Apart from this, passengers who are coming from bus and train will have to undergo thermal screening before starting their journey for Haridwar.
Also, the devotees will be provided with free masks, however, besides this whoever is found without a mask will not be allowed to enter the ghat. Even the shopkeepers have been directed to follow COVID-19 guidelines religiously.