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The Kumbh wonder

columns Updated: Jan 22, 2013 00:34 IST
PP Wangchuk

If you feel you are “dented and painted” and have sinned, visit Kumbh Mela to have a ‘clean wash’ and live a peaceful and guilt-free life hereafter.

Millions have descended for the Maha Kumbh at Allahabad to take part in the most important pilgrimage in a Hindu’s life, at the Sangam in Prayag --- the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati. It is believed a holy dip here purifies you of all the sins that you have committed, knowingly or unknowingly.

Even a man like Mark Twain was attracted by the Kumbh. After visiting it in 1895, he observed: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites…”

Legend has it that the demigods had lost their power because of the curse of Durvasa Muni. Lord Vishnu told them they could regain their power if they “churn the ocean of milk” to get the “nectar of immortality”; and work with their enemies (demons) and share the booty. They did so but when the Kumbh containing the ‘amrita’ appeared, they started a bitter fight for 12 days and 12 nights, equivalent to (our) 12 years.

An angry Vishnu, incarnated as Mohini Murti, flew away with the pot of elixir, spilling drops of ‘amrita’ at Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nashik – the places where Kumbh is celebrated.

The frenzy and the faith exhibited by the millions gathered at the Sangam is perhaps the greatest spectacle of beauty, colour and unity of a highly diverse India.