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- Last Updated: March 4, 2013
- Originally Published: July 22, 2012
- Bonnie Lewis
This holiday has several variations. The main version is held at
, and several other variations are held at Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik—all cities in India. There are several versions of the ceremony:
- The basic version is performed once every three years.
- A "half" version is held once every six years.
- A "complete" version is held once every twelve years.
- A "great" version is held every 144 years. This version of Kumbh Mela is considered the world’s largest religious festival. This is also easily the largest religious bathing festival of the Hindus.
- This festival commemorates the spilling of the jar of the nectar of immortality, called amrta. According to legend, four drops of the nectar were spilled to earth over the course of twelve years. The three minor ceremonies celebrate the first three drops while the major ceremony celebrates the spilling of the last drop of amrta.
- Dates of observance: The date on which the festival is observed varies drastically. This date depends on the position of the Sun, Moon, and planet Jupiter at certain times of the year. Hindu astrologers calculate the date of the festival in accordance with the positions of these celestial bodies. Kumbh Mela can thus virtually take place at various points during the solar year.
|Traditional Holiday||Traditional Hindu Calendar||2013 Gregorian Calendar|
|Kumbh Mela||Varies Dramatically||Jan.27-Feb.25|
- Modern practices: Hindus from all walks of life pilgrimage to the city in which it is held (frequently Allahabad) for Kumbh Mela. Processions and daily ritual baths are common, but the most important event is the ritual bath on the day of the new moon, in which the drop of amrta was said to have fallen to earth.