Kumbh Mela 2010

By Renata Rocha and others | 2010

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2010 Haridwar Kumbh is from 14th Jan to 28th April. The last Kumbh in Haridwar was in 1999. Pictures consist of Holy Ganga, Kumbh, Sadhu processions and Naga Sadhus. You see devotees waiting for Royal Bath or Shahi Snan on Mahashivaratri, 12/2/2010.

Kumbh means urn or pot, and Mela means fair. You see the well laid out banks for many kilometres along the Ganga in Haridwar.

You see ashrams on the waterfront in Haridwar.

You see Har-ki-Pauri. Kumbh Mela is celebrated 4 times every twelve years. Sites are Haridwar, Prayag Raj, Nashik and Ujjain.

You see a fully lit up Har-ki-Pauri. Looks beautiful and serene, imbued with stillness of the timeless dimensions.

Another view of the Ganga in Haridwar. The bridge takes you across the Ganga canal.

A night view of the Ganga. The festival is visited by Sadhu groups from all over India.

The spotlessly clean bank of the Ganga canal.

Another view of the Ganga canal. You can see Pandits sitting below the umbrellas.

Yet another view of the Ganga canal.

You see the holy river swell at Har-ki-Pauri. Har-ki-Pauri is also known as Brahmakund.

A devotee taking a dip in the Holy Ganga. Bathing in the holy river during the Kumbh Mela is said to liberate the soul from the painful cycles of life and death.

A fully lit up Gangamata Mandir 11.2.2010. The Kumbh attracts visitors from faraway lands like the UK, US, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Japan, Korea, Brazil and Argentina not to forget India. But did not see too many modern young Indians.

Devotees waiting for the Ganga Aarti to start.

Sacred Ghat of Hari-ki-Pauri was constructed by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. It is believed that Bhartrihari meditated here on the banks of the Holy Ganga. After he died his brother the King constructed the ghat in his name and memory. You see the flames at Aarti being performed at the main Har-ki-Pauri ghat.

A laughing Sadhu enjoying his tea.

All along the banks of the Holy Ganga, some 6 kms in length, is a clean well laid out bank. Shraddhalus (devotees) are seen taking a holy dip on 12.2.2010, ie Mahashivaratri. About 55 lakh devotees were present that day. There would have been more but for the northern cold wave conditions.

Haridwar is one of the seven holiest cities, Mayapuri, named after Mayadevi. You see Mayadevi and Dattatreya Mandirs, patron deities of the Sadhus.

Dharmadhwaja of the Juna Akhada located in the centre of Haridwar town, near the Mayadevi temple.

During Kumbh Mela, the ceremonial procession of the Naga sanyasis, believed to be an auspicious sight. It has all the trappings of royalty. The Mahant is seated on a silver throne atop a caparisoned elephant. Below him are hundreds of Naga ascetics on foot, wielding lances, their naked bodies smeared with ash. You see Renata right in front of one such Naga Sadhu procession. This year, security concerns allowed only simple motorised raths.

Procession of Sadhvi Mahamandaleshwar.

You see one more procession. Note standing policeman wearing bulletproof vest.

Horses are part of this procession, which signifies the old Hindu organisation of the Chaturanga sena, or four-limbed army, moving towards the Ganga. You see the Dharmadhwaya in Procession. Security concerns barred elephants and camels, ensuring a very simple procession this year.

You see the Dharmadhwaja in Procession.

Mahant and followers.

Warrior Sadhus.

Renata with Naga Sadhu

Naga Babas - the `sky clad` Sadhus, bare bodied before God!

The Gorakh Akada located in the heart of the town, which also has the ancient Bhartrihari gufa, or cave, inside the temple.

There are nearly 52 sadhu akhadas, comprising the unifying wisdom traditions established by eminent saints of India. Of these, Haridwar hosts 12 akhadas, who have well-ordered rights of participation in the `Shahi Snan` or royal bath of the sadhus. You see Naga Sadhus keeping themselves warm in the biting winter cold.

The chief deity of most sadhu panths is Dattatreya, manifestation of the holy trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh in the form of the wandering monk, whose padukas must be taken out in procession at the start of the procession. You see Naga Sadhus with marigold garlands.

Thus powerful Gurus of mideaval times in India, created a vigorous force of dedicated and fiercely individual men and women, who would defy the jihadi and colonial dictat, serving to protect and nurture the essence of Vedic thought within the powerful laboratory of their own microcosmic body. You see a Naga Sadhu dancing as part of a ceremonial procession of the Sadhus.

Naga Sadhu driving a motorcycle.

A group of Naga Sadhus.

A Naga Sadhu sportingly poses for the picture. Note the smile on his face.

A Naga Sadhu cooking a meal outside his tent.

A Naga Sadhu.

A Naga Sadhu clicked on Mahashivaratri day.

A Naga Sadhu watches the crowds from a distance.

Renata on a cycle-rickshaw on the streets of Haridwar. She is from Brazil.

A Sadhu saying his mantras, note he is counting on his finger tips.

Board outside Mansa Devi Mandir, a must visit during Haridwar yatra. Also visit Chandi Devi.

The Mansa Devi temple forms a beautiful backdrop for the Ganga canal.

A ropeway takes you to Mansa Devi.

A view of Haridwar and the Ganga from Mansadevi.

The Ganga Ma icon.

The Kumbh attracts devotees from all over India. The man in the grey coat is from Himachal Pradesh.

A Sadhu in the Haridwar market.

Lord Shiva.

Smiling group of sadhus. The Sadhu looks very comfortable on his motor cycle.

Inside one of the Sadhu tents.

A Naga Sadhu giving some tips to a foreigner.

Sadhus outside their tent. There were many tents like this one.

A sadhu doing Mantra Jap on his mala.

Sadhus eating their usual simple, wholesome food in a clean enviornment. Sadhus are always addressed as Mahatmas in the common lore of India. This is the Mahatmas` pangat, or dining assembly, where visitors are invited to have prasad.

Some foreigner Sadhus. Their numbers is increasing each year, in association with various akhadas. The Juna akhada hosted a Russian Mahamandaleshwar with a Rath of his own, and also several women Mahamandaleshwars.

A group of Sadhus. Note the radiant face and glowing eyes of the sadhu in the corner.

Two Sadhus outside their temple.

Sadhus in their tent.

Car Park in Haridwar. To read article on Kumbh Mela 2010 click here

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