The festival marks the end of the mega holy congregation held every 12 years. This year, the ongoing Ardh Kumbh Mela will end on March 4 when devotees will take the last holy dip on an auspicious day.
The Sangam, confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, is witnessing a flurry of devotees who are visiting the Kumbh mela in Prayagraj for the last holy dip on the occasion of Mahashivratri which is being celebrated today. With the Mahashivratri on Monday, one of the largest religious congregation on the Earth, Kumbh Mela, will draw to a close. More than 22 crore devotees are believed to have taken a holy dip this time.
The Hindu festival of Maha Shivratri has great significance for the Kumbh Mela too. The festival marks the end of the mega holy congregation held every 12 years. This year, the ongoing Ardh Kumbh Mela will end on March 4 when devotees will take the last holy dip on an auspicious day. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is expected to announce the Kumbh Mela closed on Tuesday.
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Gunjan Varshney, president of Ram Naam Bank situated at Civil Lines, told PTI, “This day symbolises the last holy bath of the Kalpvasis and is directly related to Lord Shiva.” She added that as per the mythology this auspicious day is awaited in the heavens as well.
Maha Shivratri, being celebrated today, falls once a year during the months of February and March. According to the Puranas, Maha Shivratri is celebrated as the day when Lord Shiva saved the world from the pot of poison that emerged during the great mythical churning, Samudra Manthan, of the ocean.\
Reportedly, around one crore devotees and pilgrims from different walks of life are expected to take a dip in Sangam today.
The Kumbh draws crores of pilgrims over the course of approximately 55 auspicious days and is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years. The Kumbh Mela witnesses altogether three ‘Shahi Snans’ (Royal Bath), the first of which took place on January 15on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and the third and the last on Basant Panchmi on February 10.
Interestingly, Maha Shivratri marks the culmination of the Kumbh Mela and the prominent bathing days and this time Mahashivratri is falling on a Monday, the day dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is falling after a long time.
The Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, was held in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad from January 15 on Makar Sankranti to March 4 this year. The Kumbh Mela this year is spread over an area of 3,200 hectares as compared to 1,600-hectare area in the previous mela.
The Kumbh at Sangam city Prayagraj, as Allahabad is now known, dates back to a hoary past, whose first mention was made some 2,000 years ago by Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang who visited India during the reign on King Harshvardhana.
Based on a complex astrological calculation, the alignment of the stars determines the time and place of the ‘Kumbh’ in one of the following four river-sites: Haridwar, Prayagraj, Nasik and Ujjain.
In order to house this multitude, authorities have erected a mini-city of more than 4,000 tents. Overhauling of key infrastructure was done, including upgrading nine railways stations and construction of a new airport terminal in the city.
The setting up of this new city in the huge Mela area involves 250 km roads and 22 pontoon bridges, which make it the largest temporary city in the world. A massive number of tourists from India and abroad, including countries like Australia, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, have visited the Kumbh this year making it a true festival of the world.