Magh Mela - Indian Festival
14th January 2011.
The Magh Mela is one of the greatest annual religious affairs for Hindus. Hindu mythology considers the origin of the Magh Mela to be the beginning of the Universe. An important occasion, the Magh Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam [the confluence of the three great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati] in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
In accordance with the traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India, this holy fair is organised every year during the Hindu month of Magh. This is not always a pleasant experience due to the cold and the chilliness of the water. See picture right: * Sadhus immerse themselves during the annual Magh Mela festival in Allhabad.
The Magh, we have discovered, corresponds to mid January - mid February of the Gregorian calendar; hence the name. The Magh Mela is, however, not confined only to the month of Magh and the important bathing dates are spread over a period of 45 days. The Magh Mela is actually a smaller version of Kumbh Mela. Hence it is also known as mini Kumbh Mela.
Devotees wait for the rain and chill to subside before Devotees hold prayer lamps as they perform evening rituals taking a dip in the Ganges River ahead of the Kumbh Mela on the banks of the Ganges River at Haridwar. festival in Haridwar.
* In Hinduism, sadhu, or shadhu is a common term for a mystic, an ascetic, practitioner of yoga and/or wandering monks.
India can be considered to be a land of religion. With a total of 330 million gods, goddesses and demigods being mentioned in the sacred Hindu scriptures it is natural that religion remains the cornerstone of the Hindu religion.
Here is the world's most massive Act of Faith; where every year, periodical or annual fairs [festivals] are held on river banks, lake-shores, beaches and sacred places by Hindus to commemorate important events or in honour of Gods or Goddesses.
Pilgrims come from all walks of life, with a belief that their sins will be washed off in the holy waters of the sacred river Ganges if they take a dip during the Kumbh but the actual and more science based reasons appear to be different. It is actually the position of stars and constellations during the Kumbh that makes it significant to take a dip in the river at that time we have learned.
Actually Kumbh Mela takes place during an auspicious planetary position that is believed to medicate the Ganges waters with a concentration of certain rays due to their position and turn the river into nectar. Millions of devotees arrive to purify their inner self through holy bathing rituals. It is thought by some, Will and Guy have discovered, that a lot of skin diseases are cured during this time.
The numbers have to be seen to be believed. Over 30 million people gather
for the festival.
In common Hindu parlance, fairs are known as "Mela's". These "mela's" find a mention in the great Hindu epics and sacred Sanskrit texts [Puranas] and are a prominent feature of Hinduism from time immemorial.
Map of India locating Haridwar and Rishikesh, where the three-month Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela is held. Braving chilly weather, hordes of pilgrims rise before sunrise in and around the northern town of Haridwar and made their way in darkness to the banks of the river to immerse themselves in the sacred waters.
The Story Which Provides The Origin Of Kumbha Mela.
The observance of Kumbha Mela is based upon the following story.
Many thousands of years ago, perhaps in the Vedic period, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together in obtaining "amrita", the nectar of immortality, from the Milky Ocean, and to share this equally.
However, when the Kumbha [pot] containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away with the pot and were chased by the gods.
For twelve days and twelve nights, the equivalent to twelve human years we have learned, the gods and demons fought in the sky for the possession of this pot of amrita.
It is said that during the battle, drops of amrita fell on to four places: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
Thus, Kumbha mela is observed at these four locations where the nectar fell.
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