Kumbh Mela

Hindu pilgrimage and festival celebrated in India

Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela (/ˌkʊmb ˈmeɪlə/) is a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism. It is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years, to celebrate every revolution Brihaspati (Jupiter) completes, at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: the Allahabad (Prayagraj) (Ganges-Yamuna-Sarasvati rivers confluence), Haridwar (Ganges), Nashik (Godavari), and Ujjain (Shipra). The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the waters, but it is also a celebration of community commerce with numerous fairs, education, religious discourses by saints, mass feedings of monks or the poor, and entertainment spectacle. The seekers believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to prāyaścitta (atonement, penance) for past mistakes, and that it cleanses them of their sins.


  • India's Kumbha Mela amply demonstrates that diversity can be self-organized and not anarchic, even on a very large scale. Held every twelve years, this is the world's largest gathering of people, attracting tens of millions of individuals from all corners of India, from all strata of society, and from all kinds of traditions, ethnicities and languages. Yet there is no central organizing body, no 'event manager' to send out invitations or draw up a schedule, nobody in charge to promote it, no centralized registration system to get admitted. Nobody has official authority or ownership of the event, which is spontaneous and 'belongs' to the public domain. Since time immemorial, numerous groups have put up their own mini-townships and millions go as individuals just to participate in the festivities.
    • Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.

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