I had never imagined that I would ever attend a “Kumbh Mela” in my life. It is not because I am not a spiritual person, but because I generally dislike crowds and crowded places. For the uninitiated, the Kumbh mela is held at four places in India, namely, Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.
According to a legend, at one time, the Devtas and the Asuras were churning the ocean to get “nectar” or the drink of immortality. When Lord Vishnu was transporting the nectar in a “Kumbh” or pot, he spilled some drops over these four places thus making them sacred. The Kumbh is held in these four cities in rotation, coming back to the first place after 12 years.
This year, I was invited by close relatives, to attend the Simhastha in Ujjain. After much consideration I, accompanied by my family, finally decided to go.
On the eve of our departure, we heard that the government had declared a red alert in many northern states, including Madhya Pradesh, where the temperatures were set to soar to 45 degrees and more. I was already apprehensive about facing the huge crowds and now the thought of doing so in intense heat, really seemed an uphill task. But being the positive person that I am, I embarked on the journey hoping that everything will turn out fine.
We flew down to Indore and from there proceeded by road to Ujjain. The drive was quite comfortable, it wasn’t as hot as we had expected and we did not get caught in a traffic jam.
After freshening up, we left for the Ram ghat to take a dip in the Holy river, Shipra. Incidentally this is the place where Lord Ram had bathed all those years ago. The scene at the ghat was magical. Even though there were thousands of people who had collected here for the last “Shahi Snaan” of the Simhasth, there was no chaos as such.
The atmosphere was absolutely mesmerizing. Amidst the cacophony of the temple bells, recitation of mantras, squeals of the little children and the sound of the “aarti” being performed on the banks of the river, one was transported to a different Era. Along the banks, at every few feet, the local pundits had set up temples of their own where they would apply “Tilak” on your foreheads and perform a Pooja for you after your bath. The devotion of the millions present there was almost contagious. I felt a unique sense of peace and contentment come over me. There was magic at that place, in that moment. There were people of every caste, creed, colour and status, bound together with their immense belief in this one event.
I was happy that I had decided to attend the Simhasth. It was a very rich experience indeed!