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 Prayagraj
(previously known as 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 Prayagraj
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 KUMBH MELA, which basically occurs every 12 years, although there are some special ones that are celebrated every 144 years like the KUMBH MELA 2019 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
My journey to Kumbh Mela 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!)
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 2019
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!
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?