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Kumbh Mela

In Hindu religion people conventionally consider confluences of rivers as auspicious places. Sangam at Allahabad is one such place where the Yamuna and the Ganges meet the River of Enlightenment, the mythical Saraswati.

Origin of the world “Kumbh”

According to legend, Hindu god Vishnu was carrying a kumbh (pot) of amrita (nectar), when a scuffle broke out between the gods, as a result of this four drops were spilled. The drops fell to earth at the four religious places (tirthas) of Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. The word tirtha means "ford of a river" which is a place where one can cross from this finite world into infinite divine celestial realms. The event is commemorated every three years by the Kumbh Mela, held at each religious place (tirtha) in turn. The Sangam at Allahabad is recognized as Tirtharaja, the "King of Tirthas", and the Mela, which is held once every twelve years, is considered to be the greatest and holiest of all.

The Maha ("Great" ) Kumbh Mela - is the largest religious fair in India, attended by literally millions of devotees. It covers almost whole of river banks adjacent to the confluence and is overrun by pilgrims. Tents, organized in almost military style by the government, local authorities and the police changes the whole look of the area. The mela is especially well-known for the presence of an extraordinary number of religious ascetics - sadhus and mahants - enticed from remote hideaways in forests, mountains and caves.

Ardh (Half) Kumbh Mela: It is held every sixth year after the Maha Kumbh Mela. Maha Kumbh mela takes place every 12 years.

Annual Magh Mela: The mela that is held every year other than the years of Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh is justly called the annual Kumbh Mela. The 'Magh' in Magh Mela represents that the mela falls in the Magh period (Jan-Feb). This annual Magh Mela (religious event or the great bathing festival) is a smaller version of the enormous Kumbh Mela. The same Magh Mela held at Sangam (the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) turns into the Kumbh Mela every twelfth year. During the period when the Magh Mela is held, a temporary township comes up on the banks of the Ganga river near Sangam to give shelter to large number of pilgrims. Most devotees live in these temporary shelters/tents for the whole duration of the mela leading a sacred life which is called Kalp Vas.