Allahabad, a holy city of northern India is known enough for it’s historic, religious and cultural wealth. The traditional religious, as well as cultural aspects of the city, are beautifully upheld during the many fairs and festivals that are celebrated in this city with great pomp and grandeur. Fairs and festivals of Allahabad are celebrated all year round and the holy confluence or Sangam of three sacred rivers; Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati sserveas a locale for many of the holy fairs and festivals of Allahabad.
Kumbh Mela has rightly been looked upon as a ‘singular spectacle of spirituality and life’. Allahabad is one of the venues of this great fair, the other three being Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar. This Mela is held on the banks of the sacred Triveni Sangam; i.e. the confluence of Rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythological river Saraswati after every 12 years. During this Mela a huge crowd of devotees, sadhus, saints, mahantas and tourists gather at the location of the Sangam to undertake their ritual bathing at the Sangam and to offer their prayers and tribute to Surya dev or the Sun God. Ritual bathing during Kumbh Mela is considered powerful enough to absolve one’s mortal sins. Thus, devotees make sure to take their holy dip at the Sangam during this festival time.
The Mela continues for over a month. Several tents are put up to accommodate the huge number of Kumbh Mela visitors and the Mela comes to look similar to a military camp base. This Mela is one of the most expansive human conglomerations. And is held only when the planet Jupiter enters into the zodiac sign Aquarius and the planet Sun enters into the zodiac sign Aries. Apart from ritual bathing the other activities held during the Kumbh Mela festival are devotional singing, religious discussions, debates on various religious doctrines, mass feeding of the religious assemblage. The Kumbh Mela crowd and discipline is managed and administered by the local as well as state governmental bodies. Till date Kumbh Mela of Allahabad remains one of the most compelling reminiscences of ancient India.
Ardh Kumbh Mela is also similar to Kumbh Mela in terms of its religious practices, rituals and theme. The only difference, however, lies in the fact that it held at an interval of every six years rather than twelve years. Thus if you have missed the Maha Kumbh Mela you need not wait for 12 long years to attend it again. You can even attend this Mela to get the essence and aura of the Maha Kumbh.
The Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated to pay special tribute to Lord Shiva and this festival is usually celebrated around the months of February-March. During this festival certain temples of the city such as Someshwar Mahadev temple, Mankameshwar temple are adorned most beautifully with flowers and lights. Devotees usually fast all night long and offer water on the Shiv lingams from time to time.
The renowned festival of colors Holi is celebrated in Allahabad in the month of March and is marked by mirthful songs and dances, sprinkling colored water plus colored powder on each other, distributing sweets and bhang among crowds and other such festive activities. The celebrations of Holi continue for almost a week. In many corners of the city Raas Leela enactments are carried out and huge crowds gather to watch those performances.
The Magh Mela in Allahabad is held in the Hindu month of Magh; i.e. around the months of January-February. This Mela too takes place along the banks of the holy Sangam and ritual bathing at the Sangam makes an important part of Magh Mela too. During the Mela time the area around the Sangam gets transformed into a mini township as lots of temporary accommodations and food shops are put up for the Magh Mela crowd.
Dussehra festival in Allahabad is indeed a sight to behold. This festival is held around the month of October. Various Shakti Peeths and Devi Mandirs of Allahabad are decorated during the Dussehra celebrations. Such as Lalita Devi temple, Alopi Devi Mandir, Kalyani Devi temples are decked up most glamorously. Ram Leela enactments are organized in every corner of the city. Towards the evening beautifully adorned tableaus depicting the various fascinating mythological scenes are taken out in procession from the various.
Diwali, like everywhere else in India, is celebrated with great gaiety and enthusiasm at Allahabad too. The festival usually falls in the month of October or November and the celebrations continue for nearly 5 days. During this time the city comes to life as all houses are decorated with diyas, lamps and colorful lights. People make beautiful Rangolis and traditional sweets in their houses and wear new clothes.
The popular water sports festival organized jointly by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department and Allahabad boat club has turned out to be a distinguished annual feature of the city in the present times. This fest is held each year around February. The various exciting activities organized during this time include paddle boating, parasailing, cruise boating, water scooter games, swimming competitions, on-spot painting competitions. Charm and attraction of the festival are delicious seafood is served among visitors during this occasion.