The mystical Kumbh Mela, the “world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims” will be organised again from January 14, 2019, till March 4, 2019, in the city of Prayagraj. The first known evidence of this mela can be found in 2000 years old accounts of Chinese traveller Xuanzang, and is still going on!
This Mela is organised every three years, on a rotational basis in some of the Holiest places of the Hindu religion – on the banks of Shipra river in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), the Ganges river in Haridwar (Uttarakhand), the Godavari river in Nashik (Maharashtra) and at Triveni Sangam or the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati rivers in Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh).
This year the Kumbh mela will last for 55-days. Six key dates for the holy bath in Kumbh Mela this year are, Makar Sankranti (January 15), Paush Purnima (January 21), Mauni Amavasya (February 4), Basant Panchami (February 10), Maghi Purnima (February 19) and Mahashivratri (March 4).
It is believed that, during the time of the mela, which is decided on basis of the location of the astrological bodies, the water of the river turns into holy nectar – and taking a bath in it will help one wash away his sins, and will be eternally blessed by the divine.
According to the mythology, On the advice of Lord Brahma, the ‘devas’ churned out nectar of immortality from the Ksheer Sagar (mythological sea), when ‘asuras’ were raging havoc across the world. When the latter got to know about it, they chased them for 12 days, to get their share. During this chase, some of this nectar fell at the four locations where the Kumbh Mela is held even today.
Prayagraj, where the festival will be held this year was formerly known as Allahabad and is well connected with other parts of the country. The nearest domestic airport is 12 km away from the city centre at Bamrauli. There are also four major railway stations in the city – Allahabad Junction, City Station at Rambagh, Prayag Station, and Daraganj Station.
The place is well connected with roads as well. On December 5, Central Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari made an announcement to start airboat service between Varanasi and Prayagraj exclusively for the mela next year. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is also arranging for ferry service till the Sangam Ghat of Prayagraj, where the actual mela will be held.
The state CM Yogi Adityanath is expecting 15 crore or 150 million visitors this year. Whereas the 2016 Kumbh Mela which was held in Ujjain saw 75 million footfall.
The city of Prayagraj has several hotels, guest houses and dharamshalas to accommodate the visitors travelling to the Sangam throughout the year. Apart from that, the state government has also thatched several tents, including luxury tents to accommodate all the visitors coming to the Kumbh mela to attain salvation