When I first conceived this category on the site I wasn't entirely sure what type of events we could include here, and whether it would just end up sitting empty, but as it turns out there are a lot more candidates for inclusion than you might have imagined. For the Kumbh Mela, I hesitated as to whether this was the right place for it, thinking perhaps religious events qualified for a category of their own, but having read a little more about it I think that curious certainly covers it.
I have a confession at this point - I had never previously heard of the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, which surprised me as I have always had a strange fascination with large scale religious festivals - The Hajj and similar - but then I discovered that this one only takes place every 7 years which helps explain things. Although having said that, looking ahead it seems they are falling more regularly in the years ahead, so it looks like it will be an event that increasingly enters the public consciousness.
So, what is the Kumbh Mela? Well, at the most basic level it's a pilgrimage for those of the Hindu faith - all the major world religions have a tradition of pilgrimage and if you're Hindi then this will be one you are very familiar with. The focal point is the symbolic bathing in the Ganges for the purification of sins, and here the Kumbh Mela is somewhat unusual in that it moves to different locations for each iteration. The location for the celebration is determined by the relative positions of the sun and the planet Jupiter (Bṛhaspati in Hindi) and this year Allahabad has been chosen.
The numbers attending this festival give it a strong claim to being the largest religious gathering anywhere in the world, with an estimated 70 million people attending the last event in 2007, a truly astonishing number, even when spread over the full 55 days the Kumbh Mela takes place on. It is also one of the oldest, with ancient accounts from Chinese travellers dating its origins as far back at the 7th century AD. For more detailed information on the origins and history of this pilgrimage, the Wiki page is excellent as always.
The dates for the Kumbh Mela in 2015 are from the 14th July through to the 25th September. Within this period there are several days where it is deemed especially auspicious to participate in the public bathing.
The most significant days during the 2015 festival are:
26 August 2015 (Wednesday): Shravan Shudha- First Snan
29 August 2015 (Saturday): Shravan Purnima - First Shahi Snan at Ram Kunda
13 September 2015 (Sunday): Bhadrapad Amavasya - Second Shahi Snan/ Main bathing day
18 September 2015 (Friday): Bhadrapad Shukla Panchmi (Rushipanchami) - Third Shahi Snan
25 September 2015 (Friday): Bhadrapad Shukla Dwadashi - Vaman Dwadashi Snan
The main coverage of the Kumbh Mela will obviously be by the local TV stations in India - the main one of these is the IBN channel, which you can watch live online here:
There will also be extensive coverage of the event on Youtube, with user uploaded videos in particular bringing this occasion to a wider global audience in a way that technology has never previously been capable of:
If you know of any other online channels providing coverage, then please let us know in the comments box below.
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