Ardh Kumbh Mela is held every six years at the banks of the holy Ganges River in Haridwar. Millions of people gather to be part of a religious fervor and inspite of the rush still manage to have a good time. Har ki Pauri, the holiest river bank, is exceptionally crowded and people arrive from all parts of the world. The holy dips start from as early as three in the morning to ensure the ‘purest’ of dips. The majority of the population consists of saints and sadhus, mainly Naga sadhus, who are given special preference and security for dips. Some of these sadhus perform uncommon acts like standing on their heads for a long time or piercing themselves with objects before bathing.
Mystic Powers in Kumbh
People believe that bathing during Kumbh cures of all sins and evils and grants salvation. It is also held that at the time of Kumbh, the water of Ganga is charged with positive healing effects. The water is considered to be charged positively by enhanced electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, the Moon and the Jupiter, the flux of which also varies in accordance to positions and the phases of the planets.
Many thousand years ago deities were cursed by Sage Durvasa and were thus bereft of energy, strength and powers. This prompted them to fin out the ‘Amrita’ or the nectar of immortality. But they found the task too humungous to be done on their own so they had to take the help of the Asura clan. This temporary agreement included the sharing of the nectar. The nectar was deep down beneath the milky ocean, so Mount Mandarachal was used as churning rod and the King of Serpents Vasuki volunteered to be the rope.
When Dhanvantri, the God of physicians, arrived with the nectar, the Asura clan ran away with it. For twelve days and nights, equivalent to twelve human years, the Gods and the demons fought for the possession of the nectar. During this ferocious battle few drops of nectar fell at four places- Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. Thus after every six (Ardh Kumbh) and twelve (Maha Kumbh) years, millions of people gather at these places to pray and ensure themselves a place in heaven. A dip in the holy banks at any of these places at specific time period is said to free one from the cycle of life and death (moksha / nirvana).