Kumbh Mela

An Overview of Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela in Hinduism is a religious festival that is celebrated four times over the course of 12 years, the site of the observance rotating between four pilgrimage places on four sacred rivers—at Haridwar on the Ganges River, at Ujjain on the Shipra, at Nashik on the Godavari, and at Prayag (modern Prayagraj) at the confluence of the Ganges, the Jamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati. Each site’s celebration is based on a distinct set of astrological positions of the Sun, the Moon, and Jupiter, the holiest time occurring at the exact moment when these positions are fully occupied. The Kumbh Mela at Prayag, in particular, attracts over 100 million pilgrims. In addition, a Great Kumbh Mela festival is held every 144 years at Prayag; the 2001 festival attracted some 60 million people.

The pilgrims to bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. Hindus believe that doing so will cleanse them of their sins and help them attain moksha, setting them free from the cycle of birth and death.

Amrit Nectar of Immortality
Hindu holy men arrive for ritualistic dip on auspicious Makar Sankranti day during the Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2019. The Kumbh Mela is a series of ritual baths by Hindu holy men, and other pilgrims at the confluence of three sacred rivers the Yamuna, the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati  that dates back to at least medieval times. The city's Mughal-era name Allahabad was recently changed to Prayagraj. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)