Thursday, Feb 05, 2004
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By Our Staff Correspondent
T. NARSIPUR, FEB. 4. The Kumbh Mela got underway at the confluence of the Cauvery, the Kapila, and the Spathika Sarovar here today amid traditional rituals and religious fervour.
As the priests and religious leaders chanted hymns and offered prayers at the ancient Agastyeshwara Temple to the accompaniment of traditional music, devotees took a dip at the confluence to mark the inauguration of the Kumbh Mela.
Reckoned to be a converging point for people of all faiths, the Kumbh Mela here is a tradition in the making since this is only the sixth edition and hopes to simulate the legendary event witnessed once in 12 years at Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujjain. The first Kumbh Mela was held here in 1989 and the sanctity of the place is unquestioned. It is popularly known as Dakshina Prayag.
The turnout on the first day of the three-day event here was disappointing. But as the pilgrims start arriving at T. Narsipur on Thursday for the "punya snana'' or the holy dip slated for Friday, the number is expected to increase.
The ancient temple town of T. Narsipur will come alive on Friday when a large number of devotees gather there for the "punya snana". Though the Kumbh Mela held at Ujjain, Nasik, Prayag, and Haridwar is lost in the antiquity of time, the faithful trace its origin to the churning of the ocean by the gods and the asuras or demons in quest for nectar. Though the date may be disputed by historians, it is true that the grand event was being observed even during the heyday of Buddhism in India.
However, none of the great congregations was ever held in the South and the only equivalent of the Kumbh Mela of the north is equated with the Mahamakhana that is observed once in 12 years at Kumbakonam on the banks of the Cauvery and is reckoned to have a hoary past. Now that the T. Narsipur Kumbh Mela is a regular fixture and is held once in three years, it has all the trappings of another tradition in the making.
Interestingly, both the Kumbhs of South India take place on the banks of the Cauvery.
Acharya Shankara is considered to have lent his blessings to Kumbh Melas and considered them significant due to the congregation of people of various faiths.
The key feature of the T. Narsipur Kumba Mela, apart from the ceremonial dip, is religious and spiritual discourse held on the banks the Cauvery.
Meanwhile, the auspicious time for the holy dip or "punya snana'' has been fixed between 7.17 a.m. and 8.15 a.m. (Kumbha Lagna) and 12.23 p.m. and 1.10 p.m. (Abhijanmahurtha) on Friday. The event will be marked by Ganapathi homa, abhisheka, and kalashadhivasa apart from cultural programmes.
Shivapuri Swamiji of Omkar Ashram, Bangalore, Someshwaranath Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Math, and other swamijis participated in the inaugural event.
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