Click below to listen in on the Mela:
Sounds of the Mela
January 31, 2013
by Sandra Anderson
Greetings from the bank of River Gangaji. What you are hearing is the Kumbha Mela—a giant spiritual fair that occurs here every twelve years at the confluence of the Ganga and Jamuna Rivers. On the floodplain and along the banks of the Ganga, a huge tent city rising up almost overnight, and it hosts millions of devout pilgrims and swamis, sadhus, priests and of course the thousands and thousands it takes to manage a city of this size, however rustic it is— shopkeepers, sweepers, police, rickshaw drivers, snake charmers, musicians, boatmen, and opportunists of every stripe. The compounds of the many and varied monastic orders of Hinduism are broadcasting their presence in one way or another—lectures, traditional chants, bhajans, prayers, instructions—while the mela-wide PA system blares its own announcements. Considering the enormous size and complexity, it’s surprisingly orderly, though you might not think so from listening to the din!
Why do they all come here? The story is that long ago, the demons and the gods churned the ocean and among the wonders that emerged was a pot (a kumbha) of amrit—the immortal elixir. Every twelve years the shutters of time and space slide back and the amrit flows into this world, emerging at the confluence of the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati, which flows in the unseen realms. That’s why pilgrims are swarming at the sangam like bees flocking to a drop of nectar. Most are bathing in the river, believing the amrit will flow through their inner and outer beings and free them from the painful karmas of lifetimes. And some, like us, are bathing in the inner sangam with the same intention.
What does that nectar taste like? The spontaneous outpouring of gratitude I’m hearing from our guests here validates my own experience— the nectar is unconditional joy, fulfillment, and profound gratitude for every aspect of our lives. Furthermore, like bees, we hope to carry a drop of that nectar home to share with all.