Kumbh Mela and Shahi Snan at Prayagraj

Kumbh Mela, the largest human congregation in the world, with over 12 crore pilgrims expected to participate in the 55-day long festival between Makar Sankranti on 15 January and Maha Shivratri on 4 March 2019, with the belief that taking a dip in the holy water of Ganges River will pave the way for their salvation and would rid them of their sins, commenced with the holy bath known as Shahi Snan or the Royal Bathing of Akharasat Sangam: the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati on Tuesday 15 January 2019 at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. According to the Kumbh Mela administration over 2 crore people took Shah Snan on the very 1st day during MakarSankranti.

Sadhus of 13 Akharas, that include seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh, who have traditionally participated in the KumbhMela, were the first to take ShahiSnan.KinnarAkhara, a transgender ashram, led by rights activist Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi from Mumbai, joined the ShahiSnanfor the first time.

“Nearly 350 years ago, the name of Prayagraj — considered a prominent centre of Hindu culture and Sanatan Dharma — was changed to Allahabad. However, last year, under the leadership of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, it was decided that Allahabad should be renamed as Prayagraj, as mentioned in ancient Indian texts including the Vedas”claimed UP Religious Affairs Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary.

Devotees will get an opportunity to pray in Akshay Vat and SaraswatiKup for the first time after 450 years. Until now Akshay Vat was not allowed in the reach of common people.

Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj is held in the month of Magh of Hindu calendar when Jupiter is in Aries and Sun and Moon are in Capricorn or Jupiter is in Taurus and Sun in Capricorn. At Prayagraj KumbhMelais held at every 6 years and MahaKumbh at every 12 years. Earlier they were known as ArdhKumbh and Kumbh. But this year Uttar Pradesh government has announced the ArdhKumbh will be known as Kumbh and Kumbh as MahaKumbh. The exact dates of bathing during Kumbh are determined according to Hindu astrology.

Inter-government Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ‘KumbhMela’, the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth, on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 12th session held at Jeju, South Korea from 4 to 9 December 2017. This inscription is the third in two years following the inscriptions of ‘Yoga’ and ‘Norouz’ on 1st December 2016.

The legend around Kumbh Mela includes the battle between Gods and Demons over a pot of Amrit (Nectar of immortality). In the ensuing battle between Devas and Asuras, a few drops of this nectar fell in Haridwar, Prayagraj, Ujjain and Nasik and since then Kumbh Mela has been held in these places, which represent a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India

  • This Year Prayagraj Kumbh is spread over in 3200 hectares of land which is about 700 hectares more in comparison to 2013 MahaKumbh.
  • It has been divided in 20 sectors while in 2013 only 18 sectors were developed.
  • Kalpvasis, the devotees spend one month from PaushPurnima to Maggi Purnima as per Hindu calendar
  • Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation has pressed 6000 buses into service to ferry pilgrims and railways have also introduced special trains from different parts of State and country.
  • Most of the long route trains have been given stoppage at Allahabad junction and other railway stations located in Prayagraj district.
  • UPSRTC has also introduced 500 buses in the town to bring pilgrims to Mela area from makeshift bus stations and railway stations.
  • Different air services have started air connectivity from different major cities including New Delhi, Kolkata, Nagpur, Bhopal, Dehradun, Indore, Bengaluru, Ahmadabad and Lucknow to Prayagraj.
  • A newly constructed civil airport has been opened for operation to operate newly introduced flights.
  • Mela administration has set up 87 public accommodations in the Mela area in dormitory shape on economic rates to facelift the out station pilgrims.
  • Other agencies have also developed high quality tent cities with all modern amenities to the tourists in different locations.
  • Special tent colonies have been set up in Arail area of the Mela for Non Resident Indians who are scheduled to arrive on January 24.
  • Pilgrims and tourists can book tents as per their needs and budget on line through Kumbh Mela website.
  • Eight kilometres long bathing Ghats have been developed at Sangam for holy dip and similarly several other Ghats are also developed on the banks of river Ganga in different sectors of the Mela.
  • About 12 crore pilgrims and tourists are expected during the Kumbh.
  • Massive security arrangements are in place for smooth passing of first bathing festival and ShahiSnan.
  • Elaborate arrangements have been made for Coverage of events by Akashvani&Doordarshan.
  • Kumbhvani, a separate one kelowat FM transmitterhas been set up byAll India Radio for the purpose.
  • Live broadcast and telecast of all three ShahiSnan (Bathing) of Akharas on MakarSankranti 15 January, MauniAmasya 4 February and Basant Panchami10 February will be made by both Doordarshan and AIR on national hookup.
  • Live coverage of remaining bathing festivals of PaushPurnima, MaghiPurnima and MahaShivratri will be telecast by DDUP and it will also be available on DD India channel.


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