The Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 began on Tuesday with thousands of devotees thronging the site of the congregation in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday.
One could hear the drum beating and pilgrims chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev’ on the special occasion of ‘shahi snan’ (on the day of Makar Sankranti) where devotees take a holy dip at Sangam – the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
The 49-day long event will conclude on 4 March.
According to belief, as the demigods and demons fought for possessing the elixir of eternal life, a few drops of it fell at four places that are known as Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik in the present times.
According to mythological belief, the drops granted mystical powers to the four places on which they had fallen.
Since then, the Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh Mela are celebrated every three years and six years, respectively to make people gain on those powers in each of the four places.
The complete or purna Kumbh Mela takes place at these places after every 12 years.
The Special Date For The Mega Event
Astrologically, the Ardh Kumbh Mela began on Tuesday (15 January) during the Hindu month of Magha, when the Jupiter will be in Aries and both the Sun and the Moon will be in Capricorn.
The beginning of the grand celebrations is marked by Peshwai festivity which welcomes the people, pilgrims and visitors from all around the world. Demarcations of the special routes are done for the procession which is led by saints from various Akharas.
Holy Dip In Nectar
After the ‘shahi snan’, the pilgrims will take the second holy bath on 21 January, which is known as the ‘Paush Poornima’. The third and the last Sangam dip will be on Maha Shivratri which is on 4 March, when the mela will come to an end.
It is believed that people who bathe in the holy water on these days are blessed by the Gods themselves and all their sins are washed away.
The dips are scheduled on the dates when the water of the Sangam is believed to turn into nectar. The astrological positions of the Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon influence these dates.
Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 Promoting Tourism
In order to accelerate tourism with the celebrations of the mega-event, the government has made various arrangements.
Inland waterways would transport the pilgrims and tourists between Varanasi and Allahabad, a distance of 60 km.
The organisers have also set up four floating terminals at Kila Ghat, Saraswati Ghat, Naini Bridge and Sujawan Ghat.
Apart from this, two vessels, CL Kasturba and SL Kamla, along with small boats will be deployed to move pilgrims.
Additionally, the government also plans an airboat service between Varanasi and Prayagraj by 26 January which would cruise up to 80 km/hr with a depth of 10 cm.
At present, Praygraj has a sound road, train and air connectivity.
It has four major railway stations – Allahabad Junction, Prayag Station, City Station at Rambagh and Daraganj Station. The airport is also only 12 km away from the city centre at Bamrauli.
The government of Uttar Pradesh has arranged special security for the congregation. Temporary fire stations and police stations have been set up by the fire department and the state police, respectively.
Thousands of CCTV cameras have been installed with approximately 20,000 policemen on the job, including 1,100 lifeguards.
Over 15 crore people are expected to visit the Ardh Kumbh Mela this year.
(Note- All the photos have been sourced from the official website of the Kumbh Mela.)