Ardh Kumbh mela, the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims is hosted in India’s northern city of Allahabad (recently named Prayagraj). The city is all set to host the Ardh Kumbh mela from Januray 15th to March 4th.
The Ardh Kumbh Mela happens in after six years. Millions of people from across the country come to witness the holy festival. The organizers expects 120 million to take bathe at the Triveni Sangam this year. “Triveni Sangam” is the convergence of three holy rivers, the Ganga, the Yamuna and Saraswati.
It is believed that taking a dip in Triveni Sangam, washes off our sins and leads us to the salvation(moksha). The first bath of Kumbh is lead by Saint and it is called ‘Shahi Snan’. After Saint’s royal bath common people are allowed to take dip in the river. The holy bath starts at 3 am in the morning. The holy ritual is lead by ash-smeared naked ascetics and head priests.
As a part of the holy festival the city witnessed the gathering of “Kinnar Akhada” for the first time. A historic procession of transgender sadhus took place on Sunday where, thousands of people thronged along the streets to seek the blessings from them.
“For us, this participation is about mainstream society accepting us. The creator is within us and once we die, we will go back to him. Our doors are open for all”, said Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, head priest from Kinnar Akhada.
The festival was first mentioned in the descriptions by a famous Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang. Kumbh mela of three types. Kumbh mela which occurs every 12 years are called “Purna Kumbh mela” , the festival which takes place after 12 Kumbhmelas that is after 144 years! That is “Mahakumbh Mela”. The “Ardh Kumbhmela takes place after six years.
The city is decked up for the Ardh Kumbh Mela. The whole city is decorated with murals and paintings of Gods and Goddesses, and even the pictures of famous Indian freedom fighters and cine stars were also painted. More than 1000 artists from the country has been roped in for the decoration of the city.
To make the festival a big success, the Uttar Pradesh government has arranged complete facilities for the visitors, including tents, toilets, transportation and food. The budget hosting the festival which lasts for 49 days is Rs.28 billion. Even the foreigners are expected to attend the biggest festival.
The maha festival has been included in the UNESCO’s list of” Intanglible Cultural Heritage”.