Kumbha: The Traditionally Modern Mela
In this lucid and enlightening account, Nityananda Misra takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through the modern Kumbha Mela, the largest pilgrimage and the biggest festival in the world attended by crores of people.
The book details the origin and symbolism of the Kumbha Mela, its dates and venues, and its awe-inspiring organization that has been called a wonder of modern-day management. It provides a personal close-up view of the visitors at the largest human gathering on earth-the sadhus, the kalpavasis, the tirthayatris, and members of new-age Hindu movements. The author sheds considerable light on the cultural aspects (literature, arts, and music) of the Kumbha and argues how the mela is perhaps the most diverse and inclusive human gathering and how the tradition is immortal, as if made so by the nectar of immortality which is believed to have spilled on the sites of the Kumbha Mela. Throughout the book, the author shows how diverse participants come and work together at the Kumbha Mela following the spirit of samgacchadhvam (“come together”)-a spirit that permeates the mela in his view.
The author captures his personal experience too in Prayaga, Nashik, and Ujjain, leaving an anecdotal touch to the narrative. The final chapter presents an overview of the upcoming Ardha Kumbha Mela in Prayaga in 2019.