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Kumbh Mela to be showcased in US

Spiritual groups have joined hands to celebrate one of the most sacred Hindu festivals for the first time abroad.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2006 19:05 IST

Kumbha Mela, the most sacred of all Hindu pilgrimages, will be held for the first time in the United States.

The Mela in the US is being organised on September 10 at Bren Center, University of California Irvine, to usher in world peace by infusing collective positivity, according to a press release.

It is being organised under the auspices of Paramahamsa Nithyananda, Nithyananda Foundation; Swami Ishwarananda, Chinmaya Mission; Swami Sarvadevananda, Vedanta Society; Dr Acharya Yogeesh, Yogeesh Ashram; and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

The highlights of the celebrations will include a powerful Vishwa Shanti Yagna, a Vedic style fire ceremony to invoke peace energy through one of the purest elements of nature - fire - an abhishekam, or offering of water from 21 holy rivers of India to all the deities, and a grand procession with participation by various spiritual organisations from across the US, the release stated.

Homas  and aartis  will add to the daylong rituals, which will start at 2 pm.

In India, the Mela is held four times every 12 years and rotates between Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.

Each twelve-year cycle includes one Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, which is attended by millions of people, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

Legend has it that in the Vedic ages, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together churning amrit  or the nectar of immortality from the Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk), and to share the nectar equally.

However, when the urn or Kumbha  containing the nectar appeared, the demons ran away with it. The gods then gave a chase and for 12 days and 12 nights the two sides fought for the possession of the urn.

In the course of the battle, four drops of nectar fell at Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. Hence the Mela is held at these four places.