first recorded history of
large groups of people holding a religious gathering here came from
the dairy of a Chinese traveler dating back to 500 AD. In the diary,
he described thousands of people coming to the opening day of the month-long
festival hoping to be blessed with some of the wisdom of the Gurus.
come to bathe
in the holy rivers, while others come to make offerings for the peaceful
afterlife of their dead ancestors. Often, they arrive with a small bundle
of some of their most needed personal effects or a small statue of their
most sacred deity. Whatever their purpose is, individuals often simply
want a chance to share in the experience. Soon, families and whole villages
join together creating new relationships and strengthening old ones.
that one of the ways to gain merit or "good karma" is to go on pilgrimage
to some holy place at least once in a lifetime. According to the ancient
myth, the huge river bank beside the city of Allahabad, also known as
"Prayag", is one such place. During Kumba Mela, a giant tent city is
erected below the great, red fort at Allahabad. On this vast open plain,
the multitudes will come together to live, pray, and celebrate. This
year is the largest Mela ever to be held. It is said to have taken place
here every twelve years going back for countless centuries.