The Maha Kumbh Haridwar 2021 is talk of the country these days. The host city is Haridwar this year and the preparations are in full swing. Domestic travel is stealthily making a comeback in our lives and we must cherish it together. Ardh Kumbh is celebrated after every 6 years and Maha Kumbh is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years at one of the four river-bank pilgrimage sites but this year it is taking place after 11 years itself. The reason is the change in the celestial movement of Sun, Moon and Jupiter and their collective impact on the calendar. Instead of 12 years, Jupiter has completed its cycle in 11 years and has entered the Aquarius sign in 2021. The four cities where it takes place are Prayagraj, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. In the year 2019, I had attended Ardh Kumbh in Prayagraj.
An unprecedented eventuality in my family took me to Haridwar last week (23rd January) and here are some of the latest pictures from there. I took the holy bath and had a hassle-free experience. This was possible because the major rush days are still far away in March and April. I really-really wish that major crowded days are put in check in future. We really don’t need to make it a big event. In the times of pandemic, we cannot let our guards down. In this blog, I have shared some of my observations with respect to the preparations of Kumbh.
I followed the Covid appropriate behaviour and was there only for six hours. First and foremost, please do check the travel advisory from Uttarakhand Tourism before going for it. As per the advisory, you must carry a recent RT-PCR test report. It may not be checked every time but if you will have it before-hand, you will save yourself stress and time in case you are asked to produce it anywhere. This is the first Kumbh happening during pandemic and we all must co-operate to make it safe and successful.
What are the dates of Maha Kumbh in Haridwar?
The dates of Kumbh are always decided as per the Hindu astrology and lunar calendar. This time there has been some confusion with respect to the dates and I must clear it right away. As per Hindi calendar, Kumbh began on January 14 and will continue till April 27 but officially, the major events, royal bathing days and akharas march will commence from 11th March, so some people are assuming that it will start from 11th March. This is not the case. Kumbh has already begun. It is just that the eventful days are planned for later. Even the akharas will be coming around first week of March. Massive crowd is expected during March and April.
As per schedule, Kumbh always commences on 14th January, on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti but this year, due to Covid restrictions, and to keep the crowd in check, the first Shahi Snan is scheduled for 11th March.
4 major bathing dates are
- 11th March, Thursday Mahashivratri – First Shahi Snan
- 12th April, Monday: Somvati Amamvasya – Second Shahi Snan
- 14th April, Wednesday: Baishakhi – Third Shahi Snan
- 27th April, Tuesday: Chaitra Purnima – Fourth Shahi Snan
What is Kumbh?
Kumbh Mela/ KumbhMela, has been declared as the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on Earth and not just India. It is one of the biggest cultural asset of India and the impact and the magnality is such that UNESCO has listed it under ‘The Intangible Cultural Heritage’.
The story behind Kumbh is that when the Samudra Manthan (churning of the nectar) took place between Gods and demons. To extract the nectar (amrita) from the water was not an easy task. Once the amrita was out of the water, a war broke between good and evil parties. Both wanted to have it to become immortal. To save it from falling in the hands of the demons, Lord Vishnu passed on the pot of nectar to his bird companion Garuda. While Garuda was making an attempt to escape with it, he was attacked and some of the drops of the nectar fell on Earth. It is believed that the drops fell in Allahabad now Prayagraj, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain and thus these places organize Kumbh.
The holy baths and dips are associated with the same ideology and thus people throng to these cities to wash off their sins.
My observations- Maha Kumbh Haridwar 2021?
River Ganga looked pure and gorgeous as always. She was at her electrifying self flowing at God speed. Earlier, I was not sure if I would take a dip but once I was at Har ki Pauri, there was no looking back.
There was special emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness and it was evident. The ghat area looked neat and clean like never before. Polyethene were strictly banned.
The city shined bright like an orange with lot of things painted in the saffron colour.
I was elated to see lots of street art all along the bridges, flyovers, ghats, pedestals and empty spaces. I bet the artistic makeover of the city will be appreciated by all. Major landmarks of the city have been renovated. The process is still on.
The bathing areas had been secured with steel barriers to help people hold on to them while taking baths.
It was so good to see an increase in the number of changing rooms lined up near Har ki pauri ghat. They were convenient for all who wished to take bath in the river Ganges.
Special tents and blocks have been made for people who wish to stay for longer time. A lot of preparation seemed underway for the major bathing days.
I also noticed a number of paid toilet services in and around the city, which is indeed a much-needed initiative.
Social distancing was amiss but people were seen wearing masks.
The popular eateries were back in business and they were serving tourists with the delightful delicacies. Don’t miss the kachori-sabzi and halwa in Haridwar.
People were on their duty to ensure law and order at all times.
There is something so charming and attractive about our holy cities that even though I am not a staunch believer of Hindu mythologies, I surrender myself to the pious vibes of the scared cities. I go in with the flow and take in all the experiences, as much as possible. I not only took a holy dip, but also offered my prayers to the Sun. Later, I indulged in the local delicacies.
I had been to Haridwar a couple of times before also but I did not care to notice much beyond Har ki Pauri, which is the main ghat. This time, I observed carefully and learned about other ghats too – Mahila ghat, Tulsi Ghat, Asthi Pravath Ghat, Pantdweep Ghat, Ganesh Ghat, Sita Ghat, Sati Ghat, Subash Ghat, etc.
Do share your experience below.