The recently concluded one month long Simhasta Kumbh, traditional assembling of millions of religiously charged devotees in Ujjain to fulfil the long cherished desire of getting Moksha i.e. getting rid of trapping in the endless cycle of birth and death was full of novelties this year.
Simhastha this year was a depiction of the best efforts of the State Government in providing each and every possible help to the devotees for a hassle free as well as memorable visit to Ujjain. For this, the State Government was working on a road map already chalked out four years ago which ensured a well laid infrastructure of new metaled roads, spacious and nice looking bathing ghats, shelters, uninterrupted power supply, continuous monitoring of the quality water in river Kshipra and better policing as well as handling of transport facilities.
This Kumbha was novel in the sense that for the first time in the history of bathing the 13 plus Akharas of saints and Naga ascetics divided in the Shaivite and Vaishnavite ideology agreed to take bath simultaneously in front of each other. This also made the peaceful coexistence visible in the diverse Hindu culture to the entire world.
Ujjain is one of the seven ancient towns of India referred as Awanti / Awantika/ Ujjaiyini associated with Mahaakal. The great Sanskrit poet Kalidas has also mentioned this ancient and pious city in his creation “Meghdoota”. It is the 3rd Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva situated on the Tropic of Cancer. Also termed as the centre of earth on legendary counts, it is also known as the place for the education of Lord Krishna and his brother Balrama in the Ashram of Sage Sandipani.
During the one month of Simhastha, nearly 6 crore people came to Ujjain for taking a holy dip in the north flowing Kshipra in the hope of getting rid of their past sins and an inherent wish of coming out of the cycle of rebirth. There were 3 Shahi Snans and 7 other holy bath dates related with the Hindu festivities generally observed in the month of Vaisakh. One Pancheshani Yatra was also in the Simhastha Calender for six days.
As per legends Simhastha Kumbha is organised every 12th year and is being held from the time immemorial as far as the Sanatan faith is concerned. It is the period when of the nine planets, the Bruhaspati (Jupiter) enters in the Simha (Leo) sunshine while the Sun comes to the Mesha (Aries). It happens generally in the Gregorian calendar months of April-May that year. The 10 Yogas that are a pre-requisite for the Simhastha Kumbha at Ujjain are: Jupiter in Leo, Sun in Aries, Moon in Libra, Vaisakha Month, Shukla Paksha (14 days period before the full moon), Full Moon, Kushsthali- Ujjayini Teertha, Swati Nakshatra, Vyatipat Yoga andMonday.
Legend link of Simhastha is the story of Samudra Manthan in which the Gods and Demons agreed to churn the Sea in which 14 valuable things came out and were divided between both the parties. However, it was the last item- Nectar or Amrut which was supposed to make those immortal who are able to consume it, for which they tried to get hold of the pitcher containing Nectar. It is said that on 12 places the drops of nectar fell in which- Mayapur (Haridwar-Uttarakhand, Prayag/ Allahabad-U.P., Nasik- Maharashtra and Ujjain (Ujjayini)-M.P. are on the planet earth while the rest eight said to be in the space. This struggle between Gods and Demons went for 12 divine days which amount to 12 human years so was the tradition of having Kumbha at these places every 12th year.
The Kumbha Mela was spread in about 3600 hectare area for which the state government issued land acquisition notices well in advance. The entire area was divided in 22 sectors and 06 zones with one full- fledged sector magistrate for each zone . The state government had allocated Rs. 3183 crore fund for this purpose. The Central Government as well as Other agencies also chipped in by allocating additional funds in this head. Nearly 100 roads and 14 bridges were constructed which helped in overhauling the infrastructure facilities in and around Ujjain. There were nearly 34 thousand toilets made during the Kumbha area. Wide spread arrangements were made to collect nearly a maximum of 2000 metric tonnes of litter during the Kumbha period.
Apart from the official arrangements, this Kumbha will be known for attracting foreigners to get a chance to understand the ethos of diverse traditions of Hindu way of life and to get amalgamated with the simplicity of Indian masses. For the first time a “ Vichaar Mahakumbh” was held in Ujjain which witnessed the presence of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Here the Prime Minister whole heartedly lauded the inspiring role of seers and saints in leading as well as showing the right way to the society. He appealed to them to extend their participation for the cause of World Peace and harmony. A large number of religious leaders from across the world as well as Head of States as well as diplomats from 60 Nations also came here to express their views. They all were impressed by the foolproof arrangements made by the administration.
Another highlight of the event of this Mahakumbha was the initiation of 400+ women monks in the Naga cult. The efficient handling of the one month long mega fair is now a subject of study for management experts and CEOs of Multinational giants as how this has happened in a smooth way.
*The writer is an officer of PIB, Delhi