The Ganges River occupies a special place in the hearts of the Indian people, especially when compared to other rivers. In Vedic literature and religious scriptures, the river is revered as the absolver of sins and giver of salvation.
The river is also the site of the Kumbh Mela, a grand celebration of age-old Indian culture and the largest human gathering, inviting people from all walks life from across the globe to visit without any incentive beyond their own will and faith.
“The Kumbh encapsulates the science of astronomy, astrology, spirituality, ritualistic tradition, social and cultural customs and practices, making it extremely rich in knowledge,” the president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, said.
During the Kumbh Mela, hundreds of millions of devotees converge for a holy dip at the confluence with the Yamuna River, offering their oblations in Prayagraj, which is considered to be one of the pilgrimage’s holiest places.
“In spiritual terms, this event represents the convergence of the three streams of knowledge, devotion and love. And UNESCO has recognized this festival as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
The Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj takes place for approximately 55 days this year from Jan. 15 to March 4 and over thousands of hectares of land around the sangam (confluence of rivers) is dedicated to the sacred event. It draws a large number of Sadhus (holy men) from various parts of the country.
Of all the rituals observed at the Kumbh Mela, the most significant, the bathing ritual, sees devotees take a dip in the Triveni Sangam. According to belief, bathing in these waters absolves the sins of a person.