Kumbh, the ‘world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims’ going uninterrupted for centuries, is one of the most amazing and authoritative representation of Hindu civilisation. The number of pilgrims who took a dip in Ganga on the most auspicious day this year is estimated to be nearly 30 million! It is a powerful reflection of the heights that Hindu civilisation has achieved and the manner in which seers and Rishis have been able to translate their vision into a collective action, where every individual is governed by and contributing to that collectiveness.

 

For Hindus, Kumbh Mela is not just another festival or mela, but a very auspicious occasion. It is an opportunity awaited by millions every 4 years to wash away their misfortunes accumulated through their misdeeds. The Kumbh is considered as an important milestone in the progress of the soul towards freedom.

 

The historicity of the mela is very significant. Various spiritual texts, primarily Puranas deal in detail about it. Even written evidences of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese monk Huan Tsang who visited India between 629–645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana. The increasing number of devotees visiting Kumbh itself is an indicator for the inherent nature of Hindus in preserving and nourishing their religious heritage.

 

The mela also witness the coming together of all the spiritual forces of our civilization. The Kumbh awakens again and again the national conscience to the reality that the perennially flowing stream of spirituality is the soul of India. “Religion alone is the life of India, and when that goes India will die, in spite of politics, in spite of social reforms, in spite of Kubera’s wealth poured upon the head of every one of her children,” says Swami Vivekananda. The bathing at Kumbh is not only of human bodies, but also of the psycho-spiritual body of our great civilization which is washed off its lethargy to shimmer again with its glory.

 

The Kumbh, which is celebrated by the masses together, displays the collective nature of Hindus. Western universities like Harvard have done multiple studies on this phenomenon when crores of Hindus worship together at a single place at the same time. Some of these researches have finally attributed the success of Kumbh to the Hindu social system. Without self discipline and demonstration of organisation based on this discipline, such an event, conducted every 4 years for centuries, wouldnot have been possible. It is a fact that ours is the only society on the face of earth which has such an event of gigantic scale.

 

The Kumbh is also the confluence of our diverse cultural currents. It is the best example of our Unity in Diversity. It is attended by millions of Indians from all over the country, who live together in a makeshift township at Kumbh sthan. The various culture and customs intermingle at this occasion and reinvents themselves.

 

It also turns out to be an occasion where the socio-cultural aspects of our civilization are reviewed by our spiritual leaders and collective decisions made to uproot evils in the society.

 

The Kumbh is also the example of the stark contrast between the Western civilization grounded on materialistic dimensions and the Hindu civilization founded on spirituality. Mark Twain points out this, “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”