Maha Kumbh mela is considered as the biggest festival of Hindus in the entire world. This was amply proved by observing a sea of more than 30 million Hindu devotees gathered at the confluence of 3 rivers (Triveni Sangam) at Allahabad (Prayagraj) on 10 February. The tithi (Auspicious day) of Mauni Amavasya began from 3.15 p.m. on 9 February. Since then, a sea of devotees had gathered on the 22 ghats (banks) of river Ganga and confluence to take a Holy bath.
Mauni Amavasya is considered the holiest of the 56-day festival. Millions of Hindu holy men and pilgrims descend at the Kumbh mela site for a bracing plunge in Ganges to what they feel will wash away sins; many of them walked miles before they reached the river bank.
According to ancient religious scriptures, Mauni Amavasya is the day on which Manu sage appeared in this world, millions of years ago. It is believed to be the day when the universe was created. On this day, the Sun and the Moon enters into the Capricorn sign.
Practising austerities is believed to purify an individual’s existence and observing the vow of silence is apparently the simplest way to do so.
The day holds extreme religious importance and taking bath on this day in the holy waters is deemed significant and auspicious.
An auspicious coincidence occurring after 147 years
On this Mauni Amavasya, the planets Shani (Saturn) and Rahu have come together. This is a rare occurrence and happened after the lapse of 147 years. During this period, the sun and the moon will travel together in their orbit. It last happened in 1865. Therefore, this period is considered as very beneficial for taking a bath, donation, and shraddha (Special rituals performed for the departed ancestors). This special occasion also caused the rush of devotees in an increased proportion.
I along with my wife, Jaya and son, Babai have come to Allahabad for taking bath in river Ganga on the auspicious occasion of Mauni Amabasya. We reached Allahabad by train via Kolkata on 6 February. It was Kumbh flavor everywhere – from Howrah station to the train journey. There were some women singing kirtans. Jaya also joined them briefly.
Our Guruji also reached Allahabad on the nights of 8 February from Varanasi for the bath with us. He had to walk around 16kms to reach our home due to stoppage of traffic in the city. In fact, we were privileged to have bath with our Guruji. We started our journey for the bath from the home of Jaya’s parents at 11.30am of 9 February. We joined the sea of humanity walking slowly towards the Triveni sangam. We reached the ghat at around 2.30am of 10 February. At first, Jaya, Boudi, Guttu and I took our dips with Guruji, while Babai & Prasanta was guarding the clothes. Then Guruji and I took them to the ghat for their bath. It was quite a cold night with temperature dropping below 8°C. But the sheer excitement of the event did not make us feel that the night and the water were so cold! We jumped into the river Ganga in search of “Amrit” at the Amrit Muhurt of Mauni Amabasya 10 February 2013.
We walked back to home with huge mass of people around on every road and corner. People were coming in and moving out. The police was doing a good job there and I found them very polite, to my surprise! We reached home at around 5am.
It was a really out of the world, divine experience. It can just be experienced and not be defined by any logic or knowledge based explanation. Clearly, the world’s biggest religious gathering happens when faith meets the collective.
Har Har Gangay! Har Har Mahadev!
Kumbh Mela, which takes place once in every 12 years, is billed as the biggest gathering of humanity on the Earth. In 2001, more than 40 million people gathered on the main bathing day of the festival, breaking a record for the biggest human gathering.
I was talking to my father-in-law yesterday. My in-laws stay in Allahabad. He was telling me that Allahabad has been preparing for the festival for months and a vast tented city has grown up around the river. Lots of vehicles and millions of people have reached there already. During the 55-day festival, more than 100 million people are expected to visit the city. The report says that the festival is expected to draw over a million foreign tourists too.
The festival will formally start at dawn on Monday, 14 January with groups of naked, ash-smeared Naga Sadhus sprinting into the waters at Sangam – the point at which the rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati converge – followed by millions of other pilgrims.
14 January is an auspicious day of Hindu calendar. It’s called Makar Sankranti. On this occasion, the Sun transits from Sagittarius and enters Capricorn. It also commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the north-east monsoon in South India. Here is a link for some of the images of Kumbh mela.
I am also reaching Allahabad at night of 6 February for the Kumbh Mela and of course for the main bath on 10 February.
May Makar Sankranti be harvest of prosperity, success and happiness in our life. Happy Makar Sankranti!
Kumbh Mela is the greatest pilgrimage and festival in the Hindu religion. The event is a religious and cultural spectacle which occurs once in 12 years attracting participants from around the globe to take a dip in the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati.
As per the legend, in the mythological times, during a waging war between the demigods and demons for the possession of elixir of eternal life, a few drops of it had fallen on to four places that are today known as Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. It is believed that these drops gave mystical powers to these places. It is to make oneself gain on those powers that Kumbh Mela has been celebrated in each of the four places since long as one can remember. The normal Kumbh Mela is held every 3 years, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is held every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad (Prayag) while the Purna (complete) Kumbh mela takes place every twelve years, at four places Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik, based on planetary movements. The Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated at Prayag after 144 years (after 12 ‘Purna Kumbh Melas’).
Depending on what position the Sun, Moon, and Jupiter hold in that period in different zodiac signs, the venue for Kumbh Mela is decided. The next Maha Kumbh Mela is set to be held in the city of Allahabad (Prayag) in the year 2013. It will commence from 27 January 2013 and will continue till 25 February 2013.
The Kumbh Mela is a life changing experience where a person can fill the spiritual void he or she experiences in the humdrum of busy urban life. Kumbh Mela is a platform where ordinary men can interact with saints and priests and imbibe the knowledge possessed by the latter. It is an opportunity for everyone to dissolve the worldly stresses and flow in the cultural and religious effervescence of the festival. Visiting the Kumbh Mela to take a dip in the holy waters and cleaning the sins committed in a lifetime is, in fact, a very superficial motive to attend the Kumbh Mela.
Maha Kumbh Mela 2013 is speculated to be one of the biggest congregations in the history of civilization. Last Kumbh Mela witnessed the participation of 70 million people. After visiting Kumbh Mela in 1895, Mark Twain wrote:
It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.
I am also planning to attend the Maha Kumbh Mela with my wife and son this time in February 2013. Also, Jaya’s parents stay in the holy city of Allahabad. So, we can visit them while attending the Maha Kumbh Mela.
Jit left for Baghdad to resume his duties. Babai left a week before Jit. Naturally, I would be feeling very sad, so Jit planned for my visit to Allahabad to my parent’s house for 10 days, so that I can attend Diwali, Kali Puja and Bhai phota there.
Boudi and I spent the Kali puja night at the Kalibari as this puja begins around midnight and it continues until it’s almost dawn. We also visited the house of my aunt – Kakima and cousin brother. We also went to see a horror movie in one of the nights – 1920 Evil Returns. I also met my college friend Lakshmi, who also stays in Allahabad. Boudi and I went to her house to meet her and then to the house of Babua, brother of Boudi.
Lost my Debit Card!
We went to Civil Lines area for some shopping and dining. As I was to pay at the shop, I found my HDFC Bank Debit card missing. OMG! I last used it at an ATM of HDFC Bank two days ago. May be I misplaced it there. I paid at the shop in cash. I felt damn disastrous.
We rushed to that ATM but the guard said that no card was found there. He also checked the register. Next day was Diwali and so it’s a bank holiday too. We went to the HDFC Bank. The officer was a nice gentleman. He advised that it was too late for him to do anything and advised us to call him on the next day after Diwali. We went to him in the morning. He checked his records and found that there was no such card reported lost so far. He then helped me to hotlist the debit card and immediately issued me a new Platinum debit card, which would be activated after 48 hours.
Diwali is a five-day festival starting with Dhanteras and ending with Bhai Dooj or Bhai phota. I could not realize how the days went by and the last day of Diwali came. The last of Diwali celebrations is the day dedicated to the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day known variously as bhai dooj, bhai phota, sisters pray for the long life of their brothers, by performing the ‘tika’ (red mark on the forehead) ceremony. In return brothers give gifts to them. It’s a day of bonding for brothers and sisters.
The origin of the festival is not too clear but popular legend says that after killing the demon, Narkasur, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra, who welcomed him with sweets and flowers. She also applied ‘tika’ on his forehead. Another legend says that when Lord Yama (God of death) visited his sister Yamuna, she applied a ‘tika’ on his forehead and offered him sweets and special dishes. The day is also known as Yama Dwitiya.
I performed bhai phota for dada and my other two cousins. We had a party at our house yesterday on the occasion of Bhai phota. It’s a family affair. Also, Babua, brother of Boudi joined us with his family.
I am leaving for Ranchi today as I have to attend a wedding near Kolkata on Sunday. I am feeling sad to leave my parents. The elder daughter Monika of our “gurubon” Nupurdi is getting married on Sunday. Nurpurdi and we have common guru.
I am planning to visit Allahabad again in February 2013 to participate in the Maha Kumbh Mela with Jit and Babai. I hope that the God will make everything possible as we are planning.
We arrived Jamshedpur yesterday from Ranchi in the afternoon. On the way, we stopped for a while at the Deori temple in Tamar for praying at the Durga temple.
We went to Swarn Vihar, where we attend the puja in Jamshedpur.
After praying before the Goddess Durga, we went to the house of Mukherjee da. He is like my elder brother. We had our bhog prasad there. Boudi had kept some for us when we informed her that we are coming. We had some small chat and then we came to Hotel Sonnet at Bistupur. We normally stay here. Then in the evening, we went there and also to C.H. Area. It’s a big puja and rush there. There are many food stalls there too. We had our dinner there.
After dinner, we returned to Swarn Vihar at around 11.0pm as preparation for Sandhi puja was to begin then. Sandhi Puja is an integral and the most important part of Durga Puja. This puja is performed at the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day (Mahaashtami and Mahanavami). Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Mahashtami till the first 24 minutes of Mahanavami. During this juncture, called the Sandhikshan, Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form.
The legend behind worshiping Durga as Chamunda devi says that while the Goddess and Mahishasura were engaged in a fierce battle, the two generals of Mahisha, Chanda and Munda attacked the Devi from the the rear. From her third eye then emerged a Devi with a large falchion and a shield. She had a large face, bloody tongue and sunken blood shot eyes. She was Chamunda. With a bloodcurdling shriek she leapt forward and killed them. This moment was the sandhikshan of the 8th (Ashtami) and 9th (Navami) lunar day.
This year the sandhikhshan was from 12.16am t0 1.04am. Sandhi Puja requires 108 lotus flowers, a single fruit, dry rice grain for “naivedyam”, 108 earthen lamps, clothes, jewelry, hibiscus garlands and wood apple (bel) leaves. The almost non-existent rituals which underwent changes with the changes in the society can still be seen in some of the old Pujas.
Sacrifice (Bali) is done before the goddess to symbolize the killing of demons. It used to be a sacrifice of a buffalo or a goat. But, nowadays, these are replaced by sugarcane or pumpkin, banana etc at most of the places.
Then the aarati and pushpanjali to pay respect and to surrender to the goddess.
We returned to our hotel at around 1.45am.
Today is Mahasaptami, the 7th day of Navaratri. The main Durga puja starts today. The country is getting dressed up for next four days of complete festivities. This is the most important, social and religious festival of Bengalis. Durga puja is celebrated by Bengalis all over the world, from Australia to America.
My other old friends have also come home in Ranchi from their colleges for Durga Puja. We six of us arranged a get together in the day. We all planned to assemble at our house. We planned to go for lunch at some dhaba on NH-33. We heard of a new joint – Royal Retreat. So we headed for it. We could not find it and reached BIT crossing. Then we started enquiring and so started coming back as we missed it! Then we found it and it’s quite close to our house – near Booty More. As we entered it’s premises, we found the reason for missing while driving down the highway. It’s not a dhaba! It’s a 5-star hotel!! We were not planned for this and so we returned back and had our lunch at Dawat restaurant near RIMS. It was followed by coffee at Brewberry at Lalpur.
In the evening, I and my dad went to Maitraee Club, North Office Para, Doranda for evening cultural programmes there.
Mom was already there since noon for the puja and cultural programmes. She is also one of the organizers. The kids of the neighborhood presented nice programmes.
Then dad, Gaurav and I went to Mecon Colony to see the Durga Puja there. We had nice time there and had good funds.
They have done some nice decorations with lights. It was looking great.
We had some sugar candies there.
Gaurav and I had some shooting games there.
Then, we returned to Maitraee Club and had dinner there with mom. We had Chow Mein and fish fries. We returned home around midnight. Oh, I have to upload the pictures too. Tomorrow is Mahashtami and we will go to Jamshedpur.
Karma is one of the most popular festivals of Jharkhand. This festival falls in the month of August/September (Hindu month of Bhadrapad). It is a festival celebrated by the Oraon, Baiga, Binjhwari and Majhwar tribes of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
The name Karma is drawn from the name of a tree “Karam”. The branch of the Karam tree is carried by the Karma dancers and is passed among them with singing and dancing. This branch is washed with milk and rice beer locally known as Handia. Then it is raised in the middle of the dancing arena. All worshippers dance for whole night in the praise of the “Karam”. The ritual starts with the planting of the trees. The dancers form a circle and dance with their arms around each other dancer’s waists.
The branches are garlanded on the next day. Offerings of flowers, rice and curd are made to them. Red coloured baskets filled with grains are placed before the branches. Barley seedlings are distributed among the young people, who wear it on their heads. The branches are worshipped and their blessings sought. As per the legends of Karam Devi, she is believed to be the goddess of wealth and children.
During the dance they pass the branch of the tree, the men leap forward to a rapid roll of drums, while women dance with their feet moving in perfect rhythm to and fro.
Karma Dance is also one of the oldest dance form in India. This dance form is common to the many ethnic groups of India.
Happy Karma to everyone!
Today is the Autumnal Equinox where summer ends, autumn begins. From now on the days get shorter while we prepare for the festive days.
Summer officially turns to autumn today, with the arrival of the autumnal equinox, marking the time of year when day and night are of equal length. Soon, the days will start getting shorter and the nights longer as we head deeper into autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.
Today’s equinox officially happened at 1449 GMT. This is the point when the sun arrives at the intersection of the ecliptic (an imaginary line marking the sun’s path across the sky) and the celestial equator (Earth’s equator projected onto the sky).
Autumnal equinox heralds many festivals in India, such as Navratri, Durga Puja, Diwali etc. The whole country gets into a festive mood with lots of celebrations around. These festivals are also celebrated around the globe by the Indian communities, almost everywhere.
I am also going to India next month for celebrating Navratri and Durga Puja with my family and friends.
Happy Autumnal equinox everyone!
Shiuli fuler gandho niye, saroter bhore… Abar bochor paar kore pujo elo ghure… Hok na aakash meghe dhaka, poruk bristi jhiri jhiri… Kasher bon dichhe janan, asche maa shiggiri…
This year, the Iraqi government has declared the next week as a public holiday to celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr. Combining with preceding weekend, we are getting 9 days of holidays. It was declared earlier that all Thursdays falling in the month of Ramadan would be a holiday, the reason being excessive temperature causing hardships to people on fast.
Now we are hearing that the Iraqi government has cancelled the Thursday’s holiday! But, I had already planned and booked tickets for tomorrow for traveling to Delhi. Now, it’s too late to modify the itinerary. Also, I am booked for the further journey from Delhi to Ranchi on 16 August 2012. Therefore, we are leaving for India tomorrow.
Tomorrow, 15 August 2012 is the 65th anniversary of India’s Independence Day and we are going to India on the Independence Day. Mr. PC Biswas of Indian Embassy called us on the Sunday to invite us at their residence for celebration of Independence Day and hoisting of Tricolour. We will be missing this occasion this year due to our journey tomorrow.
Happy Independence Day, India! Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!
देश की स्वतंत्रतता दिवस की पूर्व संध्या पर मै सभी को हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं देता हूं।