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Kumbh Mela,

It is the power of faith that can part a river, move mountains, and endure the hardships that come bundled up for being an integral part of Kumbh Mela, a congregation of millions, gathered together to be freed from the vicious earthly cycle of life and death and move towards a heavenly realm, which knows no suffering or pain. It's the mythological history of India and the sacred religious texts that bind us carnal souls to an eternal hope - things will be better, without the ever-imminent fear of them getting worse that cripples us here. "An eternal life free of sins" is the promise that comes attached with the magnificent event of Kumbh Mela. It's a promise to which millions want to be bound with, and it is this promise that has made Kumbh Mela what it is today.
Legend has it that in the mythological times, during a waging war between the demigods and demons for the possession of elixir of eternal life, a few drops of it had fallen on to four places that are today known as Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. It is believed that these drops gave mystical powers to these places. It is to make oneself gain on those powers that Kumbh Mela has been celebrated in each of the four places since long as one can remember. The normal Kumbh Mela is held every 3 years, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is held every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad (Prayag) while the Purna (complete) Kumbh mela takes place every twelve years, at four places Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik, based on planetary movements. The Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated at Prayag after 144 years (after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas').

Depending on what position the Sun, Moon, and Jupiter hold in that period in different zodiac signs, the venue for Kumbh Mela is decided. The calculations have been provided below for information:

Kumbh Mela at Allahabad
when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and Sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magha (January-February).

Kumbh Mela at Haridwar
when Jupiter is in Aquarius and Sun is in Aries during the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April).

Kumbh Mela at Ujjain

when Jupiter is in Leo and Sun is in Aries, or when all three are in Libra during the Hindu month of Vaisakha (April-May).

Kumbh Mela at Nasik
when Sun and Jupiter are in Leo during the Hindu month of Bhadraprada (August-September).

The next Maha Kumbh Mela is set to be held in the city of Allahabad (Prayag) in the year 2013. Read the rest of the sections to know about the important dates, history and traditions of Kumbh Mela, and the tourist information.

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated before the arrival of spring that marks the “Great Night of Shiva,” a Hindu deity. It is a major holiday in Hinduism, a solemn remembrance of overcoming darkness and ignorance. Because the holiday is based on the Hindu Lunar Calendar, the date it is celebrated changes each year.
History of Maha Shivaratri
Legend has it that a poison came out of the ocean during Samundra Manthan. In order to protect the citizens, Shiva drank the poison, but it did not kill him. Instead, it caused his throat to “burn blue.” The day is a public holiday in Nepal with offices, schools and businesses closed to honour Shiva.
Maha Shivaratri

Traditions and Celebrations
Thousands of visitors come to the Pashupatinath Temple to celebrate Maha Shivaratri and the Shiva Shakti Peetham nearby. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Pashupati, Lord of the Animals. Legend has it that Lord Shiva roamed as a deer in the forests in the area. The temple is open only to Hindus with several shrines and pavilions where yogis and priests chant or meditate.

In the days before the holiday, people fill the roads around the temple and there are vendors selling red tika powder or sacred beads. The day of the holiday there is a military parade to honour Lord Shiva as well.

Unlike most Hindu festivals which take place during the day, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. There are all night vigils and prayers representing Shiva’s ability to overcome darkness and ignorance. Many spend the night around the temple, lighting sacred fires, singing praises to Lord Shiva and keeping vigil to welcome his descent to Earth.

The official celebration begins at midnight with priests offering items to Lord Shiva in the temple. People swim in the sacred Bagmati River, carrying water in cupped palms to offer it to the stone stele which is the symbol of Lord Shiva. In the morning, sacred texts are recited until noon when people begin singing sacred songs. Some of the finest musicians and singers come to Nepal to sing praises of Shiva.

It is not unusual to see yogis or sadhus sitting naked, covered with ash or smoking marijuana during the festival. Although marijuana is illegal in Nepal, it is permitted for religious rituals during the festival. It is believed that after Shiva’s consort died, he came to the forests near the temple, smeared with ash, wearing a serpent and draped in a tiger skin. While there, he smoked marijuana which grows wild in the forests.

Shukla Paksha Saptami in Magha month is known as Ratha Saptami or Magha Saptami. It is believed that Lord Surya Dev started enlightening the whole world on Ratha Saptami day which was considered as birth day of God Surya. Hence this day is also known as Surya Jayanti.
Ratha Saptami is highly auspicious day and it is considered as auspicious as Surya Grahan for Dan-Punya activities. By worshipping Lord Surya and observing fast on this day one can get rid of all type of sins. It is believed that seven types of sins done, knowingly, unknowingly, by words, by body, by mind, in current birth and in previous births are purged by worshipping Lord Surya on this day.

On Ratha Saptami one should take bath during Arunodaya. Ratha Saptami Snan is one of the important rituals and is suggested during Arunodaya only. Arunodaya period prevails for four Ghatis (approx. one and half hour for Indian locations if we consider one Ghati duration as 24 minutes) before sunrise. Taking bath before sunrise during Arunodaya keeps one healthy and free from all types of ailments and diseases. Because of this belief Ratha Saptami is also known as Arogya Saptami. Taking bath in water body like river, canal is preferred over taking bath at home. DrikPanchang.com lists Arunodaya period and sunrise time for most cities across the globe.

After taking bath one should worship Lord Surya during sunrise by offering Arghyadan (अर्घ्यदान) to Him. Arghyadan is performed by slowly offering water to Lord Surya from small Kalash with folded hand in Namaskar Mudra while facing Lord Sun in standing position. After this one should light Deepak of pure Ghee and worship Sun God with Kapoor, Dhup, and red flowers. By doing morning Snan, Dan-Punya and Arghyadan to Suryadev one is bestowed with long life, good health and prosperity.
Ratha Saptami

Bidri craft
Bidriware is a renowned metal handicraft that derives its name from Bidar, presently in Karnataka. It was believed to have originated in 14th century AD during the reign of Bahamani Sultans.

The term 'Bidriware' therefore represents the manufacture of a unique metalware that is named after the region of Bidar. The Bahamani sultans had ruled Bidar in the 14th–15th centuries. Bidriware was first practised in ancient Persia and then it was brought to India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s followers. The art form developed due to a mix of Persian and Arabic cultures and after the fusion with local style, a new and unique style of its own was created. The Nizam of Hyderabad introduced the art form in Aurangabad, which was part of Nizam’s Hyderabad state before 1947.

Bidriware is an eight-stage process. Those are moulding, smoothening by file and the process of designing by chisels. It is then followed by engraving using chisel and hammer where pure silver inlaying is done. It is subjected to smoothening again, followed by buffing and finally oxidising by making use of soil and ammonium chloride. Bidriware is therefore manufactured from an alloy of copper and zinc metals, in the ratio 1:16 by means of casting.

Initially the presence of zinc ushers alloy a deep black color. Firstly, a mould is created using soil and this is made malleable by adding castor oil and resin. The molten metal is later poured to create a cast piece followed by smoothened through filing. The casting is further coated with a strong copper sulphate solution to gain a temporary black coating. Then the designs are etched freehand over this using a metal stylus.This is eventually secured in a vise and the Bidri craftsmen make use of small chisels to engrave the designs over this freehand etching. Fine wire or even flattened strips of pure silver are clearly hammered into the grooves.The item is then filed and buffed, as well as smoothed to remove the temporary black coating. This results in a silver inlay that is not that clearly distinguishable compared to the gleaming metallic surface, which is now completely silvery white.

The Bidriware item is now completely set for a final blackening process. Here, makers use a special variety of soil that is available only in select places. This is mixed with ammonium chloride and water for producing a paste. The mixture is further rubbed onto a heated Bidri surface that darkens the body without affecting the silver inlay.The paste is clearly rinsed, revealing a shiny silver design looking stunning and resplendent against the rest of black surface. The oil is applied as a finishing touch for the product to strengthen the matt coating. The finished product is now shining black with a brilliant silver inlay.

The makers of Bidriware create designs like flowers, leaves and also geometric designs, stylized poppy plants, human figures etc. In some countries there is a great demand for the design of Persian roses and also the passages from the Holy Quran in the Arabic script.Bidriware was also used for making paanholders, hookahs, and vases as well as bowls, ornament boxes, earrings, trays and other jewelry and showpiece items.

The world famous artistic metallic Work which was on a decline few decades ago is currently on the revival path following the introduction of several innovative designs and new patterns.The designs represent Indian to international themes in tune with latest home and lifestyle needs and interior spaces. Bidar in Karnataka state and Hyderabad in Telangana are the popular centres for Bidriware in India and it is also practised in some of the other centres across India. Due to the striking inlay artWorks, Bidriware is considered an important export handicraft item from India’s handicraft market and seen as a prized symbol of wealth. This native art form has also gained the Geographical Indications (GI) registry.

Saraswati Puja is observed in the month of Magha according to the Bengali Saraswati Puja calendar. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the season spring on a full moon day and hence is known as Shree Panchami. Saraswati Puja is observed in the months of January-February according to the Gregorian calendar. Saraswati Puja also known as Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of spring when the mustard fields are in full bloom. Being a spring festival, yellow is the significant colour of the festival Saraswati Puja. Yellow flowers like marigold and food items like khichdi (mixture of rice and pulse), kesar bhaat (saffron pudding), kesar halwa (saffron pudding) form a quintessential part of the festival. Not only the flowers and food items used in this festival represent the colour of spring, but even the attires worn by devotees and young girls flaunt the mustard colour.
According to the Saraswati Puja calendar, it will be celebrated on February 10th in the year 2019 and 6th Magh, 1423 according to the Bengali calendar. The best puja muhurta or time of the daywill be 07:07 to 12:35. The Panchami tithi for the Saraswati Puja 2019 is at 12:25 on the 9th of February and the tithi ends at 14:08 on the 10th of February.

Saraswati Puja Timing

Panchami Tithi Begins : 12:20 PM - 9 February 2019

Panchami Tithi End : 02:10 PM - 10 February 2019

Saraswati Puja 2019 Muhurat = 07:15 To 12:52 - 10-Feb-2019

Magha Gupta Navratri is an auspicious 9-day period that is dedicated to worshipping the nine different forms of Goddess Shakti. It is observed from the ‘Pratipada’ (1st day) to the ‘Navami’ (9th day) during the Shukla Paksha (the waxing phase of moon) in the ‘Magha’ month of the traditional Hindu calendar. Magha Gupta Navratri is also known as ‘Shishir Navratri’ as it falls between the winter months of January-February. It is an important occurrence for Sadhaks, tantriks and any person desiring to resolve materialistic problems. The word ‘gupt’ is a Hindi word meaning ‘secret’ and therefore Magha Gupta Navratri is known to less people unlike the other prominent Navratris observed during the Hindu month of ‘Vasant’ and ‘Chaitra’. Magha Gupta Navratri is predominately celebrated in the northern states of India namely, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Rituals during Magha Gupta Navratri:
During Magha Gupta Navratri, Hindu devotees get up at the time of sunrise and take an early bath. After finishing the morning rituals they clean and decorate the place of worship and begin making preparations.
An idol of Goddess Durga is placed on a red cloth and worshipped with vermillion, rice, colourful flowers, dhoop and incense sticks. Devotees also offer chunri, bindi and bangles to the Goddess. This nine day ritual begins on Pratipada and ends on Navami, in which nine different forms of Goddess is worshipped on each day.

The puja rituals for specific days are given below:
Navratri Day 1: Pratipada – Ghatasthapana and Shailputri Puja
Navratri Day 2: Dwitiya – Brahmacharini Puja
Navratri Day 3: Tritiya – Chandraghanta Puja
Navratri Day 4: Chaturthi – Kushmanda Puja
Navratri Day 5: Panchami – Skandamata Puja
Navratri Day 6: Sashthi – Katyayani Puja
Navratri Day 7: Saptami – Kaal Ratri Puja
Navratri Day 8: Ashtami – Mahagauri Puja and Sandhi Puja
Navratri Day 9: Navami – Siddhidatri Puja
The tenth day ‘dashami’ marks the end of the Navratri celebrations and is observed as Navratri Parana.

Devotees keep a strict fast during this 9-day long Magha Gupta Navratri. The observer of this vrat can eat only one meal after finishing the puja rituals of the day and offering food to a Brahmin. Some people can also observe partial fasting in which eating fruits and dairy products are allowed.
It is very auspicious to recite ‘Durga Mantra’ 108 times during the Magha Gupta Navratri. Also reading Durga Stotra during this period appeases Goddess Durga to shower Her love and affection on devotees.

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