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Understanding Kumbh Mela Festival – Thoughts and Quotes on the Greatest Festival on the Banks of Ganges

Millions of people will be performing holy bath at Prayag – Sangam (Allahabad in India) on the banks of Ganges River starting from January 14, 2013. These millions arrive on the banks of Ganga without any persuasion, advertisement or force. They arrive on their own. The only force that draws them to the Sangam is Moksha or Liberation – to merge with the Supreme Truth and escape from endless birth and death.

Sangam is the confluence of River Ganga, Saraswati and Yamuna. Sanagm or Prayag is the holiest place in Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). All Hindu scriptures talk about the greatness of Sangam.

Why Hinduism does not fit into the definition of religion set by western scholars is answered best during Kumbh Mela? Thousands of traditions, groups, rituals, prayers, practices, sects; different language, clothes, food, - it’s a festival of unity in diversity. Thousands of traditions arrive to become ONE at Sangam. The core teaching that brings them to banks of Ganga is that – there is only That (the Supreme Truth) – that is present in all animate and inanimate. The difference is only in the method or path to reach That Supreme Truth.

Kumbh Mela extols that Santana Dharma (Hinduism) is the collective name given to the attempts made by individuals to reach truth. Hindu Religion acknowledges each and every individuals effort to understand the supreme truth. It believes that all path leads to the Supreme Truth. That is the reason why Hinduism is the most tolerant religion in the world. That is why India is home to all the religions in the world.

The naked Sadhu, the smoking sadhu, the sadhu who never talks, the gurus, the philosopher, the scholar, the priest, the tantrics, the babas, the yoginis, the atheist, the beggars, the monks, the common man who offers prayer at home and in temples all arrive at the Kumbh Mela. They are all welcomed. They are all offered food and water. They are listened to. They are appreciated. The points they raise are debated. They depart without any ill will.  They promise to meet again. They promise to continue their search.

At Sangam, three great rivers arrive from three different directions. The three rivers have their own uniqueness. But at Sangam they become ONE. Their identities merge. The people arrive in millions to celebrate this merging.