Mother and Son at Kumbh Mela

Most significant days during the Kumbh Festival.

Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is one of the most sacred festivals and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, great devotion, fervor and gaiety. The time from sunrise to sunset on Makar-Sankranti is very auspicious. A Holy bath during this period carries special significance. Those who take a holy bath in the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri acquire pious credits .

Paush Purnima

The day occurs when the moon is full in the Hindu month of Paush. This is the last full moon of winter. By this time, the sadhu and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive at the Kumbh Mela. By the day, more pilgrims come to attend the festival in buses, trains and on foot. Each day from now on the population of Kumbhnagari (Kumbh City) doubles.

Mauni Amavasya Snan

This day is also referred to as the “New Moon of the Saints.” For the holy men and women, this is the main bathing day. New members to various holy monastic orders receive their first initiation on this day. More than fifty million people bathe in the holy waters during the Mauni Amavasya.

Basant Panchami Snan

This is the fifth day of the luminous half of the lunar month and is the beginning of spring in North India. Traditionally people wear yellow on this day. It is the day when people pray to the gods for a good bumper harvest.

Rath Saptami Snan

Ratha Saptami is a highly auspicious occasion dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God in Hinduism. Lord Surya, depicted riding a chariot driven by seven horses, is worshipped on this day. Rath Saptami festival is observed on the seventh day of Shukla Paksha in the Magh Month (January – February) in the traditional Hindu calendar.

Bhishma Ekadasi Snan

The Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram (thousand names dedicated to Lord Vishnu) was revealed to the Pandavas on this day by Bhishma when the latter was lying in a bed of arrows after the great war of Mahabharata. On this day, Bhishma Pithamaha, the oldest, wisest, most powerful and most righteous person belonging to the Kuru dynasty (approx. over 5000 years ago), narrated the greatness of Lord Krishna through Sri Vishnu Sahasranama to Yudhishtira, the oldest brother of Pandavas.

Kumbh Mela city of tents

Description of the city created during the Kumbh Mela

Temporary Kumbh Mela City A huge temporary city is created at the site of the festival for the millions of pilgrims that arrive for the most auspicious bathing days. Kumbh Mela is like a Yogi Convention, where yogis, sadhus (saints), holy people and pilgrims come from all over India. Many sadhus come from various holy places, remote forests and mountain caves in the Himalayas. The most famous of them are the Naga Babas, who are completely naked. Their bodies are smeared in ash and they wear their hair in deadlocks.
It is said that if a person bathes at the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges, Yamuna and the subterranean Saraswati on one of the main bathing days during Kumbh Mela, he or she attains liberation.  The Vishnu Purana says that one gets greater benefit by bathing during this festival than by performing 1,000 Ashwamedha Yajnas (horse sacrifices) or by circumambulating the earth 100,000 times. It is believed that by bathing at Maha Kumbh, a person is free of all his sins and 88 generations of his or her ancestors are benefited.

The main bathing days are known as ‘Shahi Snan’ or Royal Bathing Days. The main bathing day, which witnesses maximum participation, is on the Mauni Amavasya day (the dark moon). The next main day or the next Shahi Snan is said to be on Vasant Panchami (fifth day of the new moon). Another significant day is on the Bishma Ashtami which is the eighth day of the new moon. For further details please visit Kumbh Mela 2013.

Akharas In Kumbh Mela

What is an Akhara (also akhada)?

An Akhara is a wrestling arena. It is an organization of the different sects of saints, Vairaghis, and yogis who have renounced the world. The history of an Akhara dates back to the circa 2500 BC when Adi Shankaracharya established seven Akharas (perhaps 10 as they are also known as Dasnaami), Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Atal, Avahan, Agni and Anand Akhara.
Akhadas came into existence during the 8th century AD when Adi Shankaracharya established seven Akhadas namely Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Juna, Atal, Avahan, Agni and Anand Akhara with an aim to strengthen the Hindu religion and unite those practicing different rituals, customs and beliefs.
At present, there are 3 major Akharas: Sanyasi, Bairagi and Nirmal and 3 minor Akharas (Atal affiliated with Mahanirvani, Anand affiliated with Niranjani and Avahan affiliated with Juna). Furthermore there is one small Brahmachari Akhara named Agni, affiliated to Juna.

Akharas are divided into different camps according to the concept of God they worship. Shaiva Akharas are for followers of Lord Shiva, Vaishnava or Vairagi Akhara are for followers of Lord Vishnu and Kalpwasis are for followers of Lord Brahma
An Akhara is further divided into 8 davas (divisions) and 52 marhis (centers). Each Marhi performs its spiritual activities under a Mahant. The central administrative body of the Akhara is Shree Panch (the body of five), representing Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Shaktiand and Ganesha.
The five-member body governing an Akhada is elected during every Kumbh Mela for a period of 4 years.
The biggest Akhara – computed by the number of the Saints in it – is Juna, then Niranjani and then Mahanirvani. The head of an Akhara is regarded as Acharya Mahamandaleshwar, followed by other Mahamandaleshwaras, Mandaleshwaras and Shree Mahants.
On the main bathing dates, a colorful and magnificent procession of radiant saints sitting on chariots and elephants is witnessed by thousands of Kumbh visitors. These sadhus, belonging to various camps take a dip in the holy Ganges first and only then the ordinary pilgrims are allowed to take bath in the river.
During the Kumbh Mela, the ceremonial procession of the Naga Sanyasis believed to be an auspicious sight has all the trappings of royalty. The Mahant is seated on a silver throne placed upon a caparisoned elephant. Around him are hundreds of Naga ascetics on foot, wielding lances, their naked bodies smeared with ash. Camels and Horses are also part of this procession which signifies the old Hindu organization of the Chaturanga sena, or four-limbed army, moving towards the holy waters of the Ganges.However, Mahanirvani Akhara is one of the most important of all and it is normally the first to take the ‘Shahi Snan’. Their praveshai (entry) and subsequent bath in the Holy Ganga officially marks the beginning of the Maha Kumbh.

During the ‘Shahi Snan’ thousands of devotees assemble near the road sides to get a glimpse of the procession of ascetics parading amidst tight security as they make their way to the Ghats.

List of the Main Akharas:

  1. Juna Akhara
  2. Niranjani Akhara
  3. Mahanirvani Akhara

Others Akharas:
Akhadas of Sanyasi:

  1. Shri Taponidhi Niranjani Akhada Panchayati
  2. Shri Panchayati Anand Akhada
  3. Shri Panchadashnam Juna Akhada
  4. Shri Panch Ahvan Akhada
  5. Shri Agni Akhada
  6. Shri Panchayat Akhada Mahanirvani
  7. Shri Panch Atal Akhada

Akharas of Bajrangi

  1. Shri Nirvani Akhada
  2. Shri Digambar Akhada
  3. Shri Nimrohi Akhada

Akharas of Nirmal

  1. Shri Panchayati Akhada
  2. Shri Udasin Panchayati Naya Akhada
  3. Shri Nirmal Panchayati Akhada
naga's at kumbh mela

Naga Sadhus at Kumbh Mela

Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016 Dates

Ujjain Maha Kumbh Mela  2016

This festival will start on 22nd of April and will end on 21st of May 2016.

The Kumbh Mela is the most significant and eventful festival for Hindus, which is held every three years. The four important pilgrim centers which host it are Ujjain, Allahabad, Nashik and Haridwar. It is a pious and sacred festival for the Hindus in India.

Ujjain is situated near the river Shipra and it is considered as one of the most sacred places of India. During the Kumbh Mela, millions of devotees flock to Ujjain to take a holy dip and worship the river Shipra. The sadhus from all parts of India come to Ujjain to attend the Kumbh in order to attain liberation and salvation. Ujjain is also the place where Maharishi Sandipani had taught Lord Krishna, along with Sudama and Balarama.

When Guru(Jupiter) and the Sun are in the zodiac sign Scorpio(Vrishchik Rashi), it is celebrated at Ujjain. The Ujjain Kumbh Mela is referred to as the ‘Simhastha Kumbha Mela’. It is a totally different experience when devotees and sadhus come together and go ahead for the shahi snan – a dip in the sacred river Shipra, which is believed to get rid of all sins of a person. After taking a dip in river Shipra, all pilgrims visit the temple and bow before the Lord and they echo the name of the lord (Mahakalesvara). The next Simhastha Kumbha Mela will be held in Ujjain in 2016

The unique feature of the Simhastha Kumbha or the Simhastha Parva is the coming together of ten events, which are-

  1. The Purnima (Full moon day)
  2. The month of Baisakha
  3. The bright fortnight
  4. The brihaspati (Jupitor) in Leo
  5. The sun in the arise (Mesha Rasi)
  6. The vyatipata yoga
  7. The moon in the libra (Tula rasi)
  8. The holy Ksetra Avantika and
  9. The pious Monday

There is an ancient banyan tree in Ujjain – Siddhawat which is believed to possess exemplary spiritual powers and many devotees and sages worship it and meditate under it. The city has also been home to great rulers such as King Chandragupta II and legendary scholars including Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta and Kalidasa.

Temples of Ujjain

There are many temples in Ujjain. The famous ones are Mahakaleshwar, Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir, Harsidhhi Temple, Kal Bhairav, Chintaman Ganesh, Mangalnath Temple, Godkalika, Sri Sri Radha Madan Mohan Temple, Jain Temples, Prashanti Dham, Maa Waageshwari, Triveni, Gopal Mandir, Siddhhanath, Gebi Hanuman, Shiv Shakti and the Vikram Kirti Temple.

Climate of Ujjain

The climate in Ujjain is sub-tropical just as in North-Central India. It has a hot summer from March-May and rains start in June and continue till October. Winter season is from mid November. Winters are very cold with the minimum temperature going to as low as 3°C.

Reaching Ujjain

Ujjain is well-connected to all major cities in India.

  • Roadways – The state road transport service connects Ujjain to all major cities. Buses are available from Ahmedabad, Gwalior, Indore and Bhopal.
  • Railways – The Ujjain Junction Railway Station is one of the important rail stations of the Western Railways. There are direct trains from all major cities in India.
  • Airways –The nearest airport is the Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport, which is in Indore and it is 55 Kms from Ujjain. One can hire a taxi from there.