The Kumbh Mela is a legendary Hindu fair which occurs after every twelve years at four different places in Haridwar, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain in India, according to predetermined astrological constellations. It finds mention in the Guinness Book of World Records since it is the largest gathering in the world for a religious cause. It is marked by mass ritual bathing and several other religious ceremonies.
The 2010 Kumbh Mela at Haridwar witnessed a unique and historical event which is of immense Anthropological significance.The hill gods of Kumaon and Garhwal region in Uttarakhand state of India, are known to be local deities and are usually worshipped by people of a specified geographical region. But in 2010 Kumbh Mela the Hill Gods gave their consent (through their spokesmen) to come down to the city of Haridwar for a holy dip in the Ganga during this Mela. Such a mass movement of deities in the form of a procession for ceremonial bathing had never occurred in the history of the Kumbh Mela. The extremely rare process had several reasons which shall be discussed in the present paper. It shall not only describe the entire event in detail, but shall also analyse its significance by trying to see it in light of Indian Anthropological theories of ‘Universalisation’ of the lesser known deities and as an attempt to connect these deities (of ‘Little tradition’) to the ‘Great tradition’ of the Hindus. The entire study was conducted through rigorous fieldwork in the 2010 Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
|Keywords:||Kumbh Mela, Ritual Bathing, Hill Gods, Great Tradition, Little Tradition, Universalisation|
SENIOR LECTURER AND HEAD, DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY, University of Lucknow, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India