In Hindu tradition Triveni Sangam is the “confluence” of three rivers. Sangam is the Sanskrit word for confluence. The point of confluence is a sacred place for Hindus. A bath here is said to wash away all of one’s sins and free one from the cycle of rebirth. One such Triveni Sangam, in Prayag (Allahabad) has two physical rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and the invisible or mythic Saraswati River. The site is in Prayag (Allahabad). This is also the place we visited in February 2013 for Maha Kumbh Mela.
According to Hindu tradition, the Prakrista Yajna was performed here by Lord Brahma. That is why Allahabad was known as Prayag in ancient times. Prayag or “place of offerings or sacrifice” is also called Tirtha-Raja (Prayag Raj), king of all holy places. It is said that Lord Rama visited Prayag Raj/Allahabad when he was in exile. In many ancient epics and scriptures (like-Rig Veda, Mahabharata, Ramayana) description and importance of Prayag can be found.
प्रयागः सर्वतीर्थेभ्यः प्रभवत्यधिकं विभो ॥
श्रवणात् तस्य तीर्थस्य नामसंकीर्तनादपि ।
मृत्तिकालम्भनाद्वापि नरः पापात् प्रमुच्यते ॥ Mahabharat 3.83.75
English translation: O King! Prayag is the superior most among all pilgrimage places. If its greatness is heard, its Name is chanted or if its soil is smeared on the body, man will be liberated from all sins.
The Triveni Sangam is believed to be the same place where drops of Nectar fell from the pitcher, from the hands of the Gods. So it is believed that a bath in the Sangam will wash away all one’s sins and will clear the way to heaven. Devout Hindus from all over India come to this sacred pilgrimage point to offer prayers and take a dip in the holy waters. The three rivers maintain their identity and are visibly different as they merge. While the Yamuna is deep but calm and greenish in colour, the Ganga is shallow, but forceful and clear. The Saraswati remains hidden, but the faithful believe that she makes her presence felt underwater. The distinct colours can be seen at the confluence.
As the monsoon has started, the rivers are in full flow, the confluence of the rivers is seen clearly due to the force of the water, but the same force makes having a dip at the confluence difficult. The river banks are muddy and slippery. Also, it was raining then. We went to Triveni Sangam in the morning for some rituals on the river bank a day before the Shraaddha for Jaya’s mother. Because of the rain, the river bank was muddy and slippery. We found a shack, where Dada and Bapi could perform the ‘shraaddha‘ rituals. In the Hindu religion, Shraaddha is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s ancestors, especially to one’s dead parents. Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace.
After that we went to sangam for bath. As the river is around 40 feet deep there, some boats are anchored there and they put a wooden platform tied to the boats to enable the pilgrims to take dip in the river at the sangam.
It’s a holy experience. This was my second occasion that I took a dip at the sangam.