The Kumbh Mela is
a sacred Hindu festival which millions of Hindus and spiritual
aspirants of many faiths from all over the world attend.
This ancient festival
originated in the Vedic Era. Once, there was a dual between
the deities and demons. During the battle, they cooperated
to churn the ocean of milk from which emerged the pot of nectar.
Drinking the nectar would grant immortality. To prevent the
demons from drinking it, the pot was snatched by Jayanti,
the son of Indra. The demons chased him everywhere, throughout
India, to retrieve the pot. During the chase, Jayanti rested
at four places, where some drops of nectar spilt from the
pot. Thus, these four places are believed to be very sacred
pilgrim places and bathing there grants one spiritual immortality.
These four places are:
(i) Prayag (near Allahabad
in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of the three
rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
(ii) Haridwar (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) where the river
Ganga enters the plains from the Himalayas.
(iii) Ujjain (in the state of Madhya Pradesh) on the banks
of the river Kshipra.
(iv) Nasik (in the State of Maharashtra) on the banks of the
According to astrologers,
the 'Kumbh Mela' takes place when the planet Jupiter enters
Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. The Kumbh Mela occurs four
times every twelve years, once at each of the four locations
where millions gather over a period of several months to bathe
in the holy waters. Some of these days are regarded as the
main, especially auspicious days for bathing. On these days
Hindu renunciants of all denominations participate in the
Shahi Snan - the royal bath. On other days people still bathe
and participate in other events and processions.
For the whole event,
tent cities are erected by many religious organizations in
which pilgrims can stay free of charge. Many organisations
set up kitchens to feed the pilgrims free of charge. Providing
such services are deemed meritorious.
At this year's Kumbh
Mela, spread over 200 acres in Nasik, the BAPS also rendered
On 30-7-2003, one
of the seniormost sadhus of BAPS, Pujya Bhaktipriya Swami
(Kothari Swami) of Mumbai, inaugurated the new BAPS Swaminarayan
Mandir in Nasik. From that day onwards, BAPS volunteers served
hot breakfast, lunch and dinner to all pilgrims who came for
the entire Kumbh Mela period.
In this way, BAPS
served over 90,000 pilgrims from 30-7-2003 to 3-9-2003. In
addition, on the main bathing days BAPS served tea, coffee
and snacks to thousands of pilgrims along the bathing procession
Throughout the Kumbh
Mela experienced doctors and paramedical staff of the BAPS
Medical Services operated a mobile dispensary and a dispensary
in the mandir, treating over 35,000 pilgrims free of charge.
Thousands also visited
the BAPS exhibition on de-addiction and were inspired to shun
their addictions to tobacco, gutkha, smoking, alcohol, etc.
All pilgrims who
visited the BAPS-operated facilities were immensely pleased
by the management, arrangements, cleanliness, discipline and
respectful services of the dedicated BAPS volunteers.
On behalf of HDH
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Pujya Doctor Swami, Pujya Mahant Swami,
Pujya Kothari Swami and many other BAPS sadhus participated
in the ceremonial, auspicious baths.
The entire Kumbh
Mela was a well organized, successful and a memorable celebration
that was enjoyed by all.