Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather at a sacred river for a bath in the river. It is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain. Thus the Kumbh Mela is held at each of these four places every twelfth year. Ardh ("Half") Kumbh Mela is held at only two places, Haridwar and Allahabad, every sixth year. Maha Kumbh mela is held once in 144 years at Allahabad. 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. "An eternal life free of sins" is the promise that comes attached with 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.
According to ancient religious scriptures, Mauni Amavasya is the day on which Manu rishi appears in this world millions of years ago. It is believed to be the day when the universe was created. On this day, the Sun and the Moon enters into the Capricorn sign. A vow of complete silence is observed on this day known as Maun Vrat. This vow is assumed to control our senses and engage them into the service of Supreme Lord Narayana. The day holds extreme religious importance and taking bath on this day in the holy waters is deemed significant and auspicious.
Mauni Amavasya traditionally attracted the largest crowds at the mela, held here every 12 years. The day marked the second and the biggest Shahi Snan (royal bath) of this event, with 13 akharas taking to the Sangam. This was the biggest bathing day, 10 Feb 2013 at the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela and probably the largest human gathering on a single day. Over 30 million devotees and ascetics took holy dip on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya.
Sometime in 1895 Mark Twain had the privilege of attending the Kumbh Mela. He then went on to write of his experiences – “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites”.