It is astonishing, the power of faith like that. A power to make multitudes upon multitudes of the old, weak, young and frail; enter, without hesitation. A wave of human beings emerging from all the sides as 1000’s of footsteps echo on the spiritual land; just to take a dip in the holy sangam.
Matted hair dripping,
Cloth clinging and Humans.
Bead after bead,
Gurgling water from a river, that remains pristine.
The aura, so colourful.
The smell of agarbattis in the air.
The chants of sadhus
and their eyes,
Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering of humans in the world and the greatest spiritual pilgrimage for the Hindus. This festival and its celebrations that go on for over a month create a roar that is impossible to forget and is sure to become the talk of the nation. Over 100 million people swarm in its lap to bath in the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna and the enchanting Sarasvati rivers.
This cultural spectacle takes place at different places (in a cycle of 3/4, 6 and 12 years) and is a feast to the eyes, heart, and soul. The mela that occurs every six years is called the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which literally means, the half Kumbh, whereas the Maha Kumbh is held only once every twelve years! So, if you missed this one, you would have to wait another six years to attain moksha (salvation).
This year (2019), Ardh Kumbh Mela was being held at Prayagraj and after a lot of thinking, I hesitantly booked the tickets. I am not a person who particularly likes to find myself in a crowded place and hence, I often dwell in the Himalayas, seeking solace with a filtered set of people. But this opportunity, I thought, was not to be missed. I strategically booked my tickets prior to the Shahi snan so I could be a part of the uproar which just meant one thing, more people! When I started walking towards the mela, I won’t lie, my heart sank and my stomach churned; the crowd was immense and innumerous people brushed against me. I almost turned back to hide in my little hotel room but that seemed even more difficult; so I just let the crowd push me towards the banks. Once there, I understood what all shenanigans were about and I didn’t feel uncomfortable anymore.
It was a sight never seen and a feeling never felt. As I said, it was astonishing to see the power of a faith like that.
I am not exactly a very firm believer of a higher power, but, hope or fear whatever it was that was driving all these devotees, it was definitely something otherworldly.
I am not exactly a very firm believer of a higher power, but, I could see the magic in the devotee’s eyes when they finally took a dip in the river, I could see the belief, I could see, that they now hope, they will attain MOKSHA.