Kumbha Mela

Kumbha Mela:
The Mother of All Hindu Festivals

When was the last time you heard of folks like Sharon Stone or Demi Moore rubbing shoulders with ascetics who have renounced all worldly goods? It's part of what makes Kumbha Mela, a Hindu festival celebrated in India every 12 years, so special. Get the basics from the chart below, and then explore our Kumbha Mela 2001 features to find out why the festival was one of the largest gatherings in history.

WHAT IS IT? A Hindu festival celebrated in India. Pilgrims erase their sins by bathing at the point where three sacred rivers meet.
WHEN IS IT? In 2001, the festival ran from January 9-Feb 21. It occurs once every 12 years; the next Mela will happen in January 2013.
WHERE IS IT? In Allahabad, one of 4 sacred towns where, according to legend, drops of amrit, the elixir of immortality, fell. Allahabad is at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and Sarasvati rivers. The Sarasvati is a mythical river.
WHO ATTENDS? Millions of Hindu pilgrims, including sadhus--holy men who cast off all material attachments.
WHAT DO THEY DO? Pray, bathe, meditate, fast, chant and practice penance.
WHY? To worship and to purify themselves spiritually. Devout Hindus believe bathing during the festival cleanses their souls of sins accumulated during 100 past lives and rescues them from the cycle of rebirths.
WHAT DO THE WORDS MEAN? In Sanskrit, a mela is a festival. The kumbh refers to the pitcher of amrit, and metaphorically, to the human body.