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Kumbh Mela 2019: The holiest of Hindu pilgrimages

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Allahabad, Jan 18: Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred of all the pilgrimages for Hindus. Hailed as the largest congregation of pilgrims in the world, the 'Kumbh Mela' is being held in the historic city of Prayagraj from January 15 (Mahasakranti ) to March 4 (Mahashivratri). The event sees a massive gathering of devotees who come to the historic city from every nook and corner of the country often by overcoming the travails of a long journey. Devotees throng to Sangam (the confluence of holy rivers - Ganga and Yamuna and Saraswati) to take part in mass ritual bathing with a belief that the holy waters will cleanse their sins and liberate them from the cycle of life and death.

The Shahi Snan of Sadhus

The Shahi Snan of Sadhus

A Sadhu blows a conch shell at Sangam on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti during Kumbh Mela.

Kumbh Mela 2019: Devotees take holy dip on Day 1; over 12 crore people to attend

As a part of the Shahi Snan, sadhus belonging to 13 akhadas take a dip in the holy rivers along the banks of River Ganga where the Kumbh Mela takes place.

Naga Sadhus

Naga Sadhus

Naga Sadhus take holy dip on auspicious Makar Sankranti day during the Kumbh Mela. The order in which the akhadas perform the holy ritual by taking a dip in the river - the Ganges in case of the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela - is predetermined and according to the norms, no one is allowed to enter the holy river before the akhadas finish their Shahi Snans.

How are Kumbh dates determined

How are Kumbh dates determined

At any given place, the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years. There is a difference of around 3 years between the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik; the fairs at Nashik and Ujjain are celebrated in the same year or one year apart. The exact date is determined, following the Vikram Samvat calendar and the principles of Jyotisha, according to a combination of zodiac positions of the Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon.

Sadhus participate in religious procession 'Peshwai' ceremony

Sadhus participate in religious procession 'Peshwai' ceremony

One of the major events of Kumbh Mela is the Peshwai Procession, which marks the arrival of the members of an akhara or sect of sadhus at the Kumbh Mela. The order of entering the water for bathing is fixed, with the Juna, the Niranjani and Mahanirvani akharas preceding. The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river in whichever town Kumbh Mela being held: Ganga in Haridwar, Godavari in Nasik, Kshipra in Ujjain and Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati) in Prayagraj (Prayagraj).

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