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The Kumbh Festival at Nasik


The festival of Kumbha Mela is celebrated every twelve years at four places in rotation - at Allahabad and Hardwar on the banks of the river Ganges, Nasik on the Godavari and Ujjain on the banks of the river Chhipra. Hardwar Kumbha Mela takes place during the period when the sun enters Aries and at Allahabad as the sun enters Capricorn. It was last celebrated at Allahabad, this year it was at Nasik (when the sun entered Leo) and in the coming year, it is going to be celebrated at Ujjain, and then at Hardwar. In this way after a gap of 12 years, it is celebrated at the same place again.

Photo Kumbh Mela
Shri Maharaj Ji leads the huge 'Sadbhavna Yatra' procession through Nasik during Kumbha Mela

According to the Puranas, during the churning of Ocean by the gods and demons, fourteen remarkable things, namely, Vish (Deadly Poison), Chandrama (The Cool Moon), Kamdhenu (the Divine Cow or Cow of Plenty), Kalpavraksha (the Eternal Tree), Uchhasrawa (The Divine Horse), Airavat (the Flying Elephant), Varuni (the heavenly liquid), Rambha (the heavenly Dancer), Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth), Kaustubhamani (the Shining Jewel), Sarang (the Powerful Bow), Sankh (the Divine Conch), Dhanvantari (the Lord of Medicine) and Amrit-kumbh (Pitcher filled with Nectar) came out of the ocean.

When finally Dhanvantari appeared with the pitcher of Nectar in his hand, there was a fight between the gods and demons to take possession of this Nectar which lasted twelve years and during this fight, some drops of Nectar spilled onto the earth at the aforesaid four places. So this festival is celebrated every twelve years at these four places and millions of devotees come from all over India and abroad to take part in this Mahaparva (The greatest of all festivals). More than nine million devotees took part in Nasik Kumbh and bathed in the river Godavari.

To make conditions less difficult for attendees, a camp was organized under the auspices of Manav Utthan Sewa Samiti, in which free food and lodging was provided to thousands of devotees. Free medical attention was also given to the needy. Along with this, to promote mutual goodwill and kindliness among the masses, a 3-day socio-spiritual conference, called "Sadbhavana Sammelan" was organized from 25th to 27th August. It was attended by thousands of devotees and mahatmas and there were holy discourses by Shri Satpal Ji Maharaj, Shri Bholeji Maharaj, Shri Amrita Mataji, Shri Mangala Mataji, Shri Shardeyji, Shri Swetaji and many eminent saints.

Elaborating the importance of this Festival, Shri Satpal Ji Maharaj said that the meaning of Kumbh is a pitcher, a pot which is generally used by all. A pot has the power to contain and because of its containing power it is of importance to us. The earth that we live on is also like a pot, containing water which covers three-quarters of its area. The spiritual reason behind celebrating this festival is to make us think about the Energy which has the power to support not only our body but also the entire universe. He also said that Veda means Knowledge and since there are four techniques on the path of Knowledge by which we can realize the all-containing Power, we have the four Vedas and so the four places where Kumbh is celebrated, symbolizing that spiritual aspect of self-realization. The real Nectar is deep within us and when we get the Knowledge from the spiritual Master, we can really drink that Nectar and enjoy bliss in our lives.

He said that in the olden days, during the Kumbh Mahaparva, along with bathing in the river, people used to search for the enlightened Master by whose Grace they could have practical realization and connect their minds, through the four-fold technique, to that Power which is containing everything in the Universe, thus gaining peace and stablity of mind. But nowadays we just limit ourselves to bathing in a river and miss the most vital objective of life.

The conference was inaugurated by Shri Dasharath Patil, the Mayor of Nasik City who, in his inaugural speech, congratulated the Society for organizing such a well-planned and massive spiritual conference on this occasion. In actual fact, Manav Utthan Sewa Samiti's camp was the biggest one in the area and also attracted the highest attendence.

On the second day of the Conference, a 7 km long procession, called Sadbhavna Yatra (goodwill march), took place in the morning through the outskirts of Nasik to inspire mutual respect and goodwill among people as well as to inspire them to strive for the Knowledge which frees the mind of all its viruses. The procession was well-organized, disciplined and was joined by thousands and thousands of devotees who chanted slogans of peace, love and self-realization, such as "Insan ka insan se ho bhaichara, yahi paigam hamara". According to local residents and eye-witnesses, it was the biggest procession ever held in the city. In the evening, during the conference, homage was also paid to those killed recently in the Mumbai bomb blasts as well as to the pilgrims who died today in a stampede that happened as huge crowds rushed to bathe in the river.

Our 3-day conference was unique in all respects and it inspired others to work for peace and stability in the country and to foster mutual love and goodwill by igniting the spiritual lamp in individual hearts. Those who were inspired to strive for self-realization derived real benefit from this Kumbh festival.

- Dr Jai Prakash Aggarwal,

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 Manav Utthan Sewa Samiti.