The Kumbh Mela — the largest congregation in the world — sees world gathering of saints, pilgrims, devotees to take holy dips in the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mystical Saraswati. Bathing in these rivers is thought to cleanse and purify ones’ soul of all sins. Recognized by UNESCO as India’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’, Kumbh Mela never ceases to amaze and its amazement is always felt in the grandeur of it being the largest religious-cultural festival in the world.
The arrival of annual visitors — the Siberian gulls — at the Triveni Sangam in Allahabad heralds the onset of winters. With the onset of winters, these Siberian birds spread their wings to take flight of thousands of kilometres all the way from Siberia via Afghanistan, Mongolia and Tibet crossing high Himalayan mountains.
Annakoot — Mountain of food — is celebrated in observance of the episode in Sri Krishna’s childhood, in which He gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra and humbled Indra in that process. The cowherd, their wives, children and cattle jubilantly surrounded Sri Krishna. They were awed by His superhuman accomplishment and celebrated Sri Krishna’s feat with a sumptuous feast. Thus began the tradition of Annakoot.
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 Prayagraj (Allahabad) has two physical rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and the invisible or mythic Saraswati River. The site is in Prayag (Allahabad).
Bhaarbhunja [parched grain] is cooked usually using short grain parboiled rice, grams or chickpeas, groundnuts. Rice, grams, groundnuts are roasted in a huge wok-like vessel called karahi with hot sand. A karahi is a type of thick, circular, and deep cooking pot (similar in shape to a wok) used in South Asian cuisine. The word has been coined from bhaar, which means stove and bhunja means gram or chickpeas.
Kumbh derives its name from the immortal Pot of Nectar, which the Demigods (Devtas) and Demons (Asuras) fought over, described in ancient Vedic scriptures known as the Puranas. It is these Vedic literatures that have stood the test of time, out of which the tradition has evolved into the one that the world now knows as The Kumbh Mela or The Kumbha Mela. The festival is one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world, and considered as the “world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims”.
The Gola’s crunchy shaved ice stays inside the mouth for longer. It freezes the tongue, chills the teeth and numbs the cavities. Its iciness makes you deliciously comfortable and for a moment you yearn for the summer to last longer.