Kumbh Mela 2013 – where chaos meets peace

Rishabh walking at the Kumbh

This is a story of my friend Rishabh Oberoi who went to the Kumb Mela this year. This is the part 1 of his visit to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.

Part 1: The World Largest Religious Gathering of People on the Bed of Sangam

I believe Indian culture is the most colorful and diverse culture on the planet. From the world-famous food to the way people look and dresses; our languages, music, art, dance, architecture and even way to serve food is different every 100 kilometres throughout the country. One place where you can really see the diversity and complexity of this culture is the Kumbha Mela.

On the train to Allahabad
On the train to Allahabad

On the 7th of February, me and my holy friends embarked in an adventure to the wildest and most sacred fair of India. Of course, and like most Indians of my age, we were clueless about the real meaning of it and that’s why we started our ‘discovery journey’, to remove all the misconceptions in our mind related to this PURE, WILD and BEAUTIFUL RITUAL.

Kumbh Mela a Hindu festival and assembly, held once every 12 years in one of the four sacred sites with a rich history and spiritual connection. But this famous festival amongst the Indian (conservative) Society is associated and better known for many funny facts than the Holy Story:

The most contradictory: This is a place where you can see naked people, and by people, yes I mean Indian women too.

The most surprising for foreign visitors: Here you can get free food, drinks and shelter for a month and a half!

And my favorite one which is also specially highlighted in Bollywood movies: In this festival is common to hear stories such as family members (brothers or sisters) that got lost in the crowd and then met again after 12 years in the same “Mela”, which means fair in Sanskrit.

But the real and important part of the story is far from all these! The history of Indian Culture is rich and full of spirituality, which is why all the rituals followed here have some sacred and authentic meaning. I am not going to enter deep into it! But yeah, for sure I want to brief you guys about the secret of MAHA KUMBH MELA, which basically occurs every 12 years, although there are some special ones that are celebrated every 144 years like the MAHA MAHA KUMBH MELA 2013 and YES! I was the LUCKY one to attend it with some of my fortunate friends.

Now let me explain you a little about the origins of this huge gathering of faith; KUMBH is a word that comes from Kalash, which holds the nectar of immortality for which the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) came to seek for, by churning the ocean of milk; It was an order given by Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Eventually, when the Kalash appeared they fought for twelve days and twelve nights -equivalent to twelve human years- in the sky for ‘The Pot of Amrit’.

It is believed that during the battle between Devas and Asuras, Lord Vishnu flew away with the Kumbha of amrita, spilling some drops of it on some specific location on earth (the sacred sites) now known as: Allahabad (Prayaga), Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain; which coincidently are also the points where some of Indian Holy Rivers passes: Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati. So it is believed that whoever takes a bath in these Holy Rivers, especially at the time of the sacred fair of Kumbh Mela, will wash away all their sins and move towards immortality.

Hmmm… Will the Holy Water wash away the sins of one Tunisian and three Indian guys…? We had to prove it!! And let the journey begin… Bhooom!

 SCARY INDIAN TRAINS CAN MAKE YOUR FRIENDSHIP STRONGER

The train journey to the kumbh mela
The train journey to the kumbh mela

My journey to Kumbh Mela 2013 starts with the crazy Indian train: sitting like nomads and shifting our seats at every station in a bed for one occupied by four. this intense experience of travelling make you realize that when you are with friends you can undergo even the worst circumstance and still enjoy every moment of them. A lot of the things in these Kumbh trains really fascinated me; the people from every part of India, rich or poor, Brahman or Shudra were together in it, going for the single purpose of getting their sins washed by a dip in the HOLY SANGAM. We all were sharing seats with people we had never met before in our lifes, playing games, sharing food and making fun of the people around… (One more sin to be washed!)

tambaku
Unforgettable: The expression on Ilyes’face (my Tunisian friend who happens to be a FREE TRAVELLING SOUL) after tasting TAMBAKU, Indian Tobacco. Priceless!

 WELCOME TO THE CHAOS OF KUMBH MELA 2013

Our first steps into Holy Land were something like this; close your eyes and just imagine a pool of people coming out of an Indian train from every door of the box… Seriously! To have that view you needed to be there: I got really impressed and I AM AN INDIAN! Anyway, every single passenger had a smile on their face and a calm semblance of satisfaction about the fact that they had reached the place they were dreaming and struggling to get, with no clue what they were entering to… What a great landscape to start the experience!

Rishabh walking at the Kumbh
FUNNY THING: within a few steps of walking on the roads of Allahabad towards the set up Maha Kumbh Mela… I lost my shoes!! 😛 There are 16 hours from Chandigarh to Allahabad by train, and the last one was a mental and physical torture as the people who didn’t even have their seats booked were seating with us -or should I say ON US??- But hey, it was a BIG EVENT!.. We understood it! Besides, as we stepped in the Chaos of Kumbh Mela, every single stressed vein or muscle of our bodies was refreshed. I don’t have any idea WHY, but I felt I belonged there and I was meant to be in that WORLD of beautiful CHAOS…

To be continued…

Come back to know how did the rest of those magical 4 days went. Had you heard about Kumbh Mela before? Did you go this year?

Hello world, Shalu here!


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90 thoughts on “Kumbh Mela 2013 – where chaos meets peace

  1. Hi Shalu,

    Very beautifully revealed story and the post is filled with information. You are successful to share not only the experience of journey but the feeling as well.

    Because I was born and brought up in Nepal, I may not be familiar with the whole of Indian culture, but still, our culture are very closely related and thus feel importance. We heard about Kumbh mela (probably through Bolleywood movies and different stories) but you offered a chance to witness it through your post. Waiting for the next part of the story.
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    • Hi Suresh
      Religion and culture of Indian and Nepal is more or less the same with give and take here and there. My wish is to visit the Pashupathi Nath Temple once again. Thanks for commenting.
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  2. Must have been an awesome experience ma’am. I’ve never been to the Kumbh mela however I still remember this place which I visited somewhere in Janurary.

    The journey by train was one of the most unforgettable. It was a trip through our college.

  3. Hi Shalu ma’am,
    I think you have really enjoyed the travel, it must be a good experience. I haven’t celebrated the Kumbh mela any time as I’m from Southern part of India.
    Waiting for the next part.

  4. this is the first time i heard about it. not even the fact that some events are held every 12 years. most events i know such as festivals, feasts or other occasions are usually held yearly. i believe attending such rare event is an exciting adventure 🙂

  5. It should be a great experience Shalu ji. First of all congrats for your new book and I am happy to see that you have a book on Amazon now.. Must say, great job done 🙂 I would like to see more experience of yours from Kumbh Mela in this blog 🙂

  6. Hi Shalu,

    Nice story of Rishabh and his journey to Kumbh 🙂

    Yes the Maha Kumbh this time was a much awaited by many all over the world, and as you rightly mentioned, because it occurs once every 12 years, if you do manage to make it you are lucky there. I’ve never been to Kumbh, but my Dad has been lucky there.

    He was personally invited to attend the Kumbh and was given VIP treatment this year, and last year too, so it was all very good. But he did mention how tough it is for the common man to even stand there if you really don’t the path they have laid down there. Nevertheless, it’s something no one should miss, if you are given such a chance.

    Thanks for sharing, and we look forward to the next part of his travelling experience. Have a nice weekend 🙂
    Twitter:

    • Hello Harleen,
      Thanks for your lovely comment. Yes you are so right about the purity and importance of this spiritual fair in our culture. People like your dad, me, my friends and many others were really lucky to be a part of it this year as this Kumbh was really a special one which occurs once in 144 years. I am really glad that u liked my first part of journey , soon I will share the real essence of being inside the KUMBHA-MELA.
      BE EXCITED 🙂

  7. Indian festivals and happenings are becoming more and more popular around the globe.
    There have been a lot of visitors in India for quite some time now.
    Kumbh 2013 is no exception.
    It is really a place where chaos meets peace.

  8. The naked main are the followers of Lord Shiva .. They have practicing shaivism . My elders say that they have great spiritual powers associated with them ..People ho have been a part of Kumbh Mela are lucky..Thanks for sharing your experiences with us .

    -Pramod
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  9. Speechless!… Even tho I’ve heard the story many times!.. Too bad I missed this one but the next one is on my wish list already! Happy to have this amazing traveler in my life 🙂
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  10. Nice Journey!
    I am residing very near to Ganga Holy river i never get chance go at the time of Kumbh mela after reading this i think i should try once. Thanks Nice one!
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  11. Hi Rishabh,

    This was an excellent introductory post about your trip to the Kumbh Mela and I’m looking forward to the next one.

    I’ve never been and have always been fascinated at how millions of people get together for this event.

    Thank you.

    • Hello Hiten,
      Its my pleasure that you liked my article and got a glimpse of such a extraordinary fair in our culture which marks the world largest act of faith.
      Soon I am going to share the next 3 breath taking days in Kumbha ,Allahabad. Hope you will love it 🙂
      Thank you

  12. Hello Shalu,
    This is really a nice post related to the Kunb Mela. This mela is held in my sweet Himachal Prdaesh. As you know this is one of the amazing and fantastic destination around India and visited by number of his is one of the travelers every year.
    I am really happy to find this post here. I am also write on one blog that is fully delegated to all the people’s and travel lover of Himachal Pardesh. I am proud to be a Himachali.
    Many thanks add such a adventure able post here. Fell proud to read this here.
    Twitter:

    • Hello Sachin,
      Yes my friend its something really addictive and fun while travelling in trains or bus specially when you have to be there for 16 hrs 🙂

  13. Its realy true history, of Indian Culture is rich and full of spirituality.Kumbh Mela is really a worth place to visit. Rishabh seems enjoyed a lot in Kumbh. But thats very funny and embarrassing that he lost his shoes there.:( but the pic is awesome :(, and its very common in India that other people are sitting on your reserved seat very confidently. LOL !!!

  14. Basically i am from haridwar and seen the three Kumbh mela, The chaos, the public and the heavely experience of kumbh mela can not be experienced with out being their. Thanks for posting such a wonderful article with beautiful images. Keep posting
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    • Hello Rakesh,
      Thanks for your comment , being from Haridwar I can imagine that you really I have the true taste of KUMBH and of-course being there was one my best life time experience.
      Hope you will love the next part too.

  15. Oh my god!! I never expected to get so many comments on my first travelling article EVER to be honest I am overwhelmed with all your comment guys and I am glad that you loved the first adventurous part of my travel.
    Sorry for not replying here earlier as I was busy in my new 9-6 job 😛 but still travelling is something that I will never forget and promise to keep on sharing my experience with you guys. I am sure some way or another my stories will help u guys to understand and feel the importance of travelling and exploring this beautiful world around us.
    So be in touch with me here at amazing Shalu Sharma-Guide to travel and get ready to experience the second part of my WILD, CRAZY & SPIRITUAL journey to KUMBH MELA 2013 # Bhooom
    ps: If you have ever had a crazy experience in Indian trains or ever traveled to Kumbh in your life or may be Wanna travel in future feel free to talk and share your story with us here.

  16. Kumbh Mela. 🙂 I remembered my olden days when I was in Allahabad, it is my hometown so I have been lucky enough to watch it year by year so closely.

    The best part was to see the energy level in people coming from different parts of the world and if we talk about India then you see so many old aged people, who might not even be able to walk but they are there.

    It is a complete learning experience and if someone has never seen it then you must visit it at least once.

    Thanks for reviving my memories Shalu by writing about Kumbh mela.
    Twitter:

  17. Kumbh Mela .. 🙂 I never been in Kumbh Mela. I did see some Indian movie & I found in Indian movie that Brother do loose in Kumbh Mela, mean to say anyone can be loose in this Mela ! I really don’t know what exactly but I never been in Kumbh Mela

  18. Nice post 🙂 I remembered my back days when I was in Allahabad, actually it is my hometown so I have been lucky enough to watch it year by year so closely.

  19. It is one of the largest religious congregations on Earth; I was so amazed to read about it a six months ago when I researched on it to write an article about this religious festival with reference to pollution
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  20. I myself have never been to Kumbh Mela, but the Hindi movies have made this mela a big hit, as in the old movies, the siblings used to get separated from each other in this Mela. Nice to read something about this glorified mela. Thanks for the share.

    • Hey Anusha,
      Thanks for your comment , I am grateful that you liked my article. Soon I will share my rest of the spiritual experience with more exciting stories of our survival in the MahaKumbha 2013.

    • Hey Anusha,
      Thanks for your comment, I am grateful that you liked my article. Soon I will share my rest of the spiritual experience with much more exciting stories of our survival in the MahaKumbha 2013.

    • Namaste! Ankit
      Thank you for your comment , I am glad you enjoyed the article , I am sure you will get a chance to visit next Kumbh Mela in upcoming years my friend.

      Some updates about the upcoming Kumbha festivals :
      1) The next Kumbh Mela will be held at Nashik on the bank of the river Godavari in 2015 (15 August to 13 September)
      2)Kumbh Mela 2016 in Ujjain: The Kumbh at Ujjain is also called “Simhastha”.

  21. Nice information shalu sharma. People from all over the world enjoy this fair pretty much. I have never been there but this post made me curious to be there atleast one. thanks for this great share shalu

  22. Great information here, I will tell you I learned a lot from this and opened my eyes about a potential India trip.

    • You are welcome Adventure Man , I am glad you liked my story.. I will make sure we will keep on inspiring you people and share our experience through out our journey of exploring Incredible India.

  23. You are welcome Adventure Man and Alan , I am glad you liked my story.. I will make sure we will keep on inspiring you people and share our experience through out our journey of exploring Incredible India.

  24. Very Impressive article Shalu. Travelling to somewhere is really a good feeling. If its with our family and friends, will more good to enjoy… keep on sharing like this…

    Thanks for sharing it..

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