Trimbakeshwar/Nashik: Simhastha Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation of any faith in the world held after every 12 years, today began with the traditional hoisting of flags as tens of thousands of sadus and other people took a holy dip in Kushavart and Ramkund in Godavari river here.
In Trimbakeshwar, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and state Women and Child Welfare minister Pankaja Munde were the chief guests while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis presided over a function at Nashik.
The Mela will see the spectacular ‘shahi snan' (royal bath), when seers and sadhus of various ‘akharas' (sects) take dip in river in large numbers folowing colourful procession, at Trimbakeshwar on August 29, September 13 and 25. Nearly three lakh sadhus are expected to be in Nashik and Trimbakeshwar for the religious gathering.
Kumbh Mela is celebrated at four places in the country depending on the positions of planets and stars. When Jupiter and Sun are in zodiac sign Leo (Simha Rashi), it is celebrated in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik.
Besides, the Kumbh Mela is also held at Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Ujjain. According to the Hindu mythology, the drops of elixir fell from the ‘kumbha' (pitcher) carried by gods (produced after the sea was churned) at these four places and bathing in the river there during this period ‘cleanses' one all the sins.
“This is not a common dip but one of immense faith which washes away all the evils and brings good luck,” said Jayant Shikhre, chairman of the Sangh.
The festival, known as the largest peaceful gathering, occurs once in 12 years as per Hindu calendar and is marked by participation of ‘sadhus' from different denominations (akhadas), and lakhs of devotees. Kumbh is also known for the religious pomp and colourful processions.
The festival will last for almost a year, according to a release issued by the Trimbakeshwar Purohit Sangh. On the occasion of flag-hoisting at Trimbakeshwar, a Naval chopper showered rose petals on the sea of humanity that has gathered for the mega event.
After the ceremony, thousands of people who have come here from different parts of the country took a dip at Kushavart teerth (pond) located near the temple of Lord Shiva. Around 80 lakh to one crore people are expected to be in Nashik during the three auspicious days of ‘Shahi Snan' and around 25-30 lakh in Trimbakeshwar.