Yesterday I was doing some researches on what will be my first stop of this journey, the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad, when I realized that I didn’t share with you much about it and how on earth I decided to start off from there.
Well, the reason why is pretty easy: there is no reason why. I’m a very instinctive person, and when I decide to do something I just do it. It happened when I was reading, laying on my bed in the Alps on holiday, Andrea Bocconi narrating in “Viaggiare e Non Partire” about this huge hindu festival… which happens only once every 12 years… And the last one was in 2001…
Wait. 2001?! Quick: 2001 + 12… Pinch me, I’m dreaming! Ha but wait a second, it could be anytime of the year, and I’ll be in India only in February…
Admit it, in my shoes you would have done the same. Not to say the date is chosen by astrologers (to make it happen when the Sun enters into Aries and Jupiter into Aquarius), and I still hadn’t booked my flight to India. Ok perhaps I’m being too Italian now.
Anyway, this is the biggest religious gathering in the world, welcoming millions of pilgrims from every corner who come to purify their karma in the waters of the Ganges – in 2001, 40-60 millions of people were estimated to be present, and the expectations for this year are even higher. The only tiny, insignificant detail (yes I’m quoting Love Actually, so?) is that I’m not a huge fan of very crowded places… But I’m sure I’ll cope with it, right?!
So here’s the Mythological Story Behind Kumbh, kindly stolen from Maha Kumbh Yatra website:
Kumbh’s (Kumbh Mela) history originates from the beginning of the Creation of universe. The Gods had lost their strength, and to regain it, they thought of churning the Ksheera Sagara (Primordial Ocean of milk) for amrit (the nectar of immortality), this required them to make a temporary agreement with their arch enemies, the demons or Asuras to work together, with a promise of sharing the nectar equally thereafter. However, when the Kumbha (urn) containing the amrita appeared, a fight ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, the celestial bird, Garuda the vehicle of Vishnu flew away with the Kumbha of elixir, and that is when drops of amrita fell at four places on earth: Prayag [Allahabad], Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik, and that is where the Kumbh Mela is observed every twelve years.
This year the Maha Kumbh Mela will be held in Allahabad, at the confluence of the three holy rivers, from 27th January to 25th February, with the following auspicious bathing dates:
Isn’t this just really, really cool?