The biggest religious festival of the world, known as “Maha Kumbh Mela” (Great Festival of Urn), will take place in the northern Indian town of Haridwar on the banks of river Ganges. Where, millions of people will have their ritual cleansing bath on eleven auspicious days from the beginning of January up to the end of April.
Haridwar is situated close to the spurs of the Shivaliks, the lowest range of the Himalayas and is regarded as one of the seven holiest places of the Hindus. The Holy river Ganga (Ganges) transverse the Himalayas to enter the plains at Haridwar and this is what gave the city its ancient name, Gangadwára (the place where the Ganges descends to the plains). Haridwar means “Gate of God’s Land” and the link to paradise is established by the Holy River Ganges.
Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortal – Pot of Nectar – described in ancient Vedic scriptures known as the Puranas. ‘Kumbh’ in Sanskrit language means ‘pot or pitcher’. Mela means ‘festival’. Thus Kumbh Mela literally means festival of the pot or a festival celebrating the appearance of the pot of nectar.
During the festival, Hindus consider Hardwar as India’s religious capital and more than ten million people would dip into the Ganga, in order to purify body, mind and soul and wash off their sins. On the eve of such a bathing day, the town vibrates in hectic religious fever and the centre stage of the Maha Kumbh Mela is occupied by the sadhus who belong to dozens of Hindu sects.
History -The ancient origin of the Kumbh Mela is described in the time-honored Vedic literatures of India as having evolved from the bygone days of the universe when the demigods and the demons conjointly produced the nectar of immortality. For the task of churning the milk ocean, the Mandara Mountain was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the rope for churning. As the churning began, the Mandara Mountain began to sink deep into the ocean, at which time Vishnu incarnated as a great tortoise and supported the mountain on His back. With the demigods at Vasuki’s tail and the demons at his head, they churned the milk ocean for one thousand years. The churning of the milk ocean first produced a deadly poison which Shiva drank without being affected. Thereafter, a cow named Surabhi appeared who could yield unlimited quantities of milk. A white horse named Uccaihsrava was then appeared, as well as a white elephant named Airavata. Then a valuable gem called the Kaustubha-mani appeared. At last a male person named Dhanvantari appeared carrying the pot of immortal nectar in His hands. The demigods, being fearful of what would happen if the demons drank their share of the nectar of immortality, forcibly seized the pot. In an endeavor to keep the nectar from falling into the hands of the demons, the demigods hid it in four places on the earth, Prayag (Allahabad), Hardwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. At each of the hiding places, a drop of immortal nectar spilled from the pot and landed on the earth and since then, these four places are believed to have acquired a mystical power. During the festival, Hindus consider Hardwar as India’s religious capital and more than ten million people would dip into the Ganga, in order to purify body, mind and soul and wash off their sins. On the eve of such a bathing day, the town vibrates in hectic religious fever and the centre stage of the Maha Kumbh Mela is occupied by the sadhuswho belong to dozens of Hindu sects.
Akhara: As per the Vedic concept of life, the usual life span of a person was divided into four distinct periods or ‘ashrams’, Brahmacharya or study period, Grihastha or normal life period, Vanprasthaor withdrawal period and Sanyasa or renunciation period. As this system fell into disuse and the concept of Mathas gained prominence and became important centers to propagate the ethical behavior and to protect the Vedic concept of life. The Sanyasis of the various Mathas were divided into various categories governing the various aspects of Vedic life. The Naga Akhara Movement was founded in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya when he established a group of militant initiated followers whose task was to protect pilgrims and sadhus from robbers and other enemies, later called the Nagas. For them the Maha Kumbh Mela is of great significance, because they are the first ones to take the holy dip in the Ganga on the most auspicious day during the shahi snan, the “royal bath”, which marks the climax of the festival as they are the privileged people who are said to cleanse the river goddess. These processions are meticulously organized formations where thousands of Naga Sadhushaving matted hair, ash smeared body, naked and totally unmindful and unconcerned of the public gaze, stride towards the Ganges in a zeal of religious fervour.
The bathing sequence of the various Akharas is absolutely sacrosanct and no alteration is possible as the exact time for start, bathing and return are prescribed under the provisions of section 39 of the Indian Police Act. The Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad, the apex body of all the sadhus, mahants and mandleshwars of different Akharas & Sampradyas, decides the dates of the Shahi snans for the Kumbh and conveys the same to the Kumbh Mela administration.
The main bathing dates at the Haridwar Kumbh are:
1.January 14, 2010 (Thursday) Makar Sankranti Snan First Snan (bath)
2.January 15, 2010 (Friday) Mauni Amavasya and Surya Grahan (Solar Eclipse) Second Snan (bath)
3.January 20, 2010 (Wednesday) Basant Panchmi Snan Third Snan (bath)
4.January 30, 2010 (Saturday) Magh Purnima Snan Fourth Snan (bath)
5.February 12, 2010 (Friday) Maha Shivratri ratham Shahi Snan (First Royal Bath)
6.March 15, 2010 (Monday) Somvati Amavasya Dvitya Shahi Snan (Second Royal Bath)
7.March 16, (Tuesday) Nvasamvatsar Snan Fifth Snan (bath)
8.March 24, 2010 (Wednesday) Rama Navami Sixth Snan (bath)
9.March 30, 2010 (Tuesday) Chaitra Purnima/Vasishnav Akhara Snan seventh Snan (bath)
Accommodation during Mahakumbh’2010 – We will be making special arrangements to provide comfortable stay and quality experience to the visitors. Apart from the hotels room bookings we will provide 40 Cottage Camps – The Hardwar Mahakumbh Camp 2010
Our similar efforts of providing deluxe tents at Maha Kumbh in Hardwar in 1998 & in Allahabad in 2001 had been appreciated worldwide.
Some of the major highlights of the camps:-
Accommodation in spacious all weather proof luxury-tents.
Attached baths and toilets with running Hot & Cold water.
Multi cuisine vegetarian satvik dining facilities offering international (continental, Chinese) and regional cuisines (Garhwali, Punjabi, South India and other Indian cuisines).
Hot water bottles as sun down service.
Guided visits to the shrine.
Escorted walk to meet Sadhus.
First aid at camps with oxygen cylinders.
Escorted walk and visits to nearby areas.
STD / ISD calling facilities at the camps.
Well structured activity blocks at each of the campsites to take care of everyday
A media and utilities center at all the campsites
Ayurvedic massages & Spa Centre
Escorted walks to various events during Maha Kumbh 2010
Folk Dances every evening (on special request for groups)
Private bathing ghat (next to the camp site), exclusively for Camp guests
Thatched roof reception
Safety Vault at reception for valuables
Tea lounge 24 X 7
JUST NOT AN ACCOMODATION
At “Hardwar Maha Kumbh ”, hospitality is not restricted to offering guests just accommodation & food; it goes beyond this established norm. The guests from our “Hardwar Maha-Kumbh Camp 2010”, as well from Ananda ” in the Himalayas” can decide how they want to define their experience. Guests are offered a glimpse of the local culture & heritage and a variety of activities to choose from. Some of the options available are:-
A visit to meet the Sadhus at the various Akharas.
A visit to (where ever) Bhajan and Kirtan are being performed at the Mela area.
A specialised photography/filming tour for the proffessional photographer & film makers.
A photography tour for the amateur photographers.
Special arrangement to organize private Srimad Bhagwat Katha.
Special arrangement to visit lectures of various Gurus.
Special arrangement to reach Harkipauri Ghat or anyother Ghat during the main days of the Kumbh festival.
Visit to National Parks around Hardwar.