The 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has inscribed Kumbh Mela in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list along with sport, craftsmanship, musical instruments of 11 countries. The meeting took place in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea.
Over the six days, the 24 members of the Committee, elected by the General Assembly of the 2003 Convention, discussed a number of issues that are important for the safeguarding of living
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recognition of Kumbh Mela is a matter of immense joy and pride for India.
What is Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela, the festival of the sacred Pitcher, is a peaceful congregation of pilgrims during which participants bathe or take a dip in a sacred river. The congregation includes ascetics, saints, sadhus, aspirants-kalpavasis and visitors. The tradition plays a central spiritual role in the country, encapsulating a diverse range of cultural customs. Knowledge and skills relating to Kumbh Mela are mainly imparted through the teacher-student relationship, but transmission and safeguarding are also ensured through oral traditions and religious and historical texts.
Devotees attend an aarti of holy river Kshipra during Simhastha Maha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
What are the sites of mela?
Traditionally, the fairs at the following four sites are recognized as Kumbh Melas: Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Trimbak-Nashik and Ujjain.
Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati and Sadhus or holy men offering chunari to Maa Kshipra during Shimhasth Kumbha Mela in Ujjain
How the dates of mela are calculated?
Each site's celebration dates are calculated in advance according to a special combination of zodiacal positions of Bṛhaspati (Jupiter), the Sun and the Moon.
Naga Sadhu and devotees take part in the holy dip on the second Shahi Snan in Kshipra River during Simhastha Maha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
Kumbh Mela in Ujjain
The Kumbh Mela at Ujjain began in the 18th century, when the Maratha ruler Ranoji Shinde invited ascetics from Nashik to Ujjain for a local festival. Like the priests at Allahabad, the pandits of Nashik and Ujjain, competing with other places for a sacred status, may have adopted the Kumbh tradition for their pre-existing melas.
Devotees take holy dip in River Kshipra during Simhastha Maha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh , a day after thunderstorm and heavy rains.
How many people attend?
The 2001 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad (Prayag) was estimated by the authorities to have attracted between 30 and 70 million people. The estimated attendance for the 2013 Allahabad Kumbh Mela was 120 million
A Naga Sadhu walks with a foreigner devotee during month long Simhastha Maha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain
Photo Credit: PTI photos