The Nagas’ rejoicing after the holy dip in the Ganges during Mauni Amavasya.
Kumbh – the seat of spirituality above all religions, the point in space where not only the rivers merge but all paths to the Almighty merge to form the path to a better life of togetherness. Sanathan Dharma – as one of the yogi’s point out is the natural order of being; the way humans survive and mix with the elements of nature, imbibe their spirit into themselves and lead their way spiritually. It was such chaotic and anarchic freedom, all in the devotion to God. Underlying each chaos was a strong spiritual connect – the breeze, the flowing river, the sand under your feet and a lakh other people. I reached Allahabad late and the Kumbh maidan at the sunset. From far, the Kumbh maidan complex seemed some promised land. Dotted with the lights that seemed like stars, it was exciting to be there with lakhs of other people.
The promised land & the ganga arati. Photographs © anirbansaha.com
There were various Akharas and I met different people, interacted with them and photographed them. After sunset, there were rituals at the Ganga ghaat – of varied magnificence. The Ganga Arati was the apex of magnificence. I went to few Akharas’ and the discussion we had was enchanting. This time of the year, the Ganges is supposed to bring alive the “Amrit” or the immortalising nectar. The story is based on the stories of the Samudra Manthan (the churning of the ocean), and this year the yog (timing of the amavasya) is extremely holy and has come after centuries. One of the Naga baba’s at Kumbh said “Know from the experienced, experience it and then believe in it”. I do not know what he precisely meant, but that seemed rational.
The Yogis’ at Juna Akhada & the Dawn at Sangam. Photographs © anirbansaha.com
To be true, I was apprehensive. While in conversation and after having cannabis together and joking about quite few things, the Naga babas’ got very friendly. I had no place to put up, so I found some place to stay beside the river. It was cold and I was shivering. One Purohit came by himself to give me a new blanket and with kind words. There was a bonfire made and we camped near the river. The people started taking a dip from 2:30 am, because during the Shahi-Snan the pilgrims cannot take a bath. It was completely misty and one could hardly see beyond 4 feet. By 3:30 they started flocking on the sides of the road where their Gurus’ walked their way to the ghat on the auspicious Mauni Amavasya, to take a dip. A single dip is all that was required for them and all of us to connect to the Almighty. I walked the length with the religious gurus and reached the Sangam. And trust me; words shall fail if I try to describe it. No place as holy as the Sangam during the sunrise, with a lakh other bathing in it. The only warmth to receive was that of the people. A new insight to my own being – varied, plural and accepting all that came to me. To me, the immortalising factor was meeting the set of amazing people. The immortalising factor was the bond we shared within minutes only to part ways. Immortalised is the moment when I opened my eyes after Surya-pranam, to see the fog clear and the sun rise at the Sangam.
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