Kumbha Mela 2001 Glossary

Akharas



















Sects or groups. The word akahara can refer to an arena, even a venue for a wrestling match, but at the Kumbh it is mostly used to refer to the great congregations of sadhus, and members of mostly celibate religious communities. All of the Akaharas present at the Kumbh Mela will have large compounds and enough tents to house the thousands of members belonging to their particular Akahara who come to the mela from all over India and abroad. An umbrella organisation called the Akahara Parishad represents 13 Akaharas and speaks with one voice on their behalf on important issues. The 13 Akaharas can be broadly divided into three groups depending on their primary focus of their members. The first group, the Sanyasis belong to three main akaharas and have the maximum number of Naga Sadhus. The second group are the Bairagis. The third Udasin group is mainly Punjab based and has a number of Sikh followers. Each Akahara has its own particular identity in terms of dress, emblem and Deities. Some of the richer Akaharas spend a lot of money to out do the others in terms of their structure, decoration and lighting here at the Mela.
Babri Masjid




The mosque which was destroyed by Hindu fanatics on 6th December 1992 in the north Indian town of Ayodhya. It is alleged that the Babri Masjid was built some 400 hundred years ago on the site originally occupied by a Hindu temple. This site is believed to be the birth place of the God-man Ram.
Basant Panchami
The fourth auspicious date for bathing in the Holy Ganga - January 29, 2001.
Bigha 1 Bigha = 26500 sq.ft
BJP





Bharatiya Janata Party is a coalition of mainly Hindu parties which is currently the governing party in India as well as in Uttar Pradesh(UP), the state where the Kumbh Mela is taking place. The BJP will also in Charge of UP in 1992, when the Babri Masjid Mosque was demolished by Hindu fanatics in the town of Ayodhya 180km north of Allahabad.
Crore 1 crore = 10 million
Ganga
India’s holiest river. Lord Brahma, the Creator is believed to have given it birth by pouring ot forth from his water pitcher
Kaplwasi





A person who does penance. Here at the Kumbh Mela this term refers to pilgrims who have come here to stay for at least a month covering all of the important shahi snan days. The kaplwasis give the Kumbh Mela a kind of anchored stability while the millions of other floating pilgrims come for a day or two and then go back home perhaps to return for the next shahi snan day.
Kumbhnagar
The name of the temporary city covering the Kumbh Mela area.
Kumbhsnanyoga
The conjunction once every 12 years of Jupiter, the Sun, Moon and/or Saturn in a particular zodiac.
Lakh 1 lakh = 100,000
Magh Purnima
The fifth auspicious date for bathing in the Holy Ganga - February 8, 2001.
Mahamandeleshwar A senior preacher of a sect
Mahanta A leader of a particular sect.
Mahashivratri

The sixth auspicious date for bathing in the Holy Ganga - February 21, 2001. This date marks the end of the Kumbh Mela.
Makar Sankranti
The second auspicious date for bathing in the Holy Ganga - January 14, 2001.
Mauni Amavasya
The third and most auspicious bathing date - January 24, 2001.
Nagas


Celibates who have renounced all worldly possessions to the point of not wearing any clothes. They cover themselves with ash or mud to insulate them from the cold. They have a special place at the Kumbh Mela.
Paush Purnima

The first auspicious date for bathing in the Holy Ganga - January 9, 2001.This date marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela.
Puranas Ancient Hindu scriptures
RSS
Rastriya Seva Sangh is another fundamentalist Hindu party that thrives on communal politics.
Sangam

If the confluence of two rivers can be compared to the shape of a tuning fork, the Sangam is the space between the prongs.
Saraswati

The celestial river of the Gods which intersects the Ganga and Yamunah rivers at their confluence. It is believed to flow underground
Shahi-Snan






The Royal Bath in the Ganges. Members of various akharas are given priority access in a prearranged sequence to the Sangam for bathing. When the akharas are bathing no ‘ordinary’ pilgrims are allowed to bathe at the Sangam ghat. This procession of the various akharas and sadhus marching in great pomp with elephants, horses and live bands for their shahi-snan in the Ganges is one of the most colourful features of the Kumbh Mela.
Shankaracharya












Adi Shankaracharya is credited with reforming Hinduism and giving it Life and vitality, which it had lost. In doing so he saved it from the onslaught of Buddhism which began during the enlightened reign of Emperor Ashoka. By the time of his death at 33, Adi Shankaracharya among other achievements set up four centres also referred to as Mutts or Peets in four locations across India. These Mutts were to act as beacons of light so as to prevent Hinduism from degenerating, as it had done before. A Shankaracharya leads each Mutt and each is usually referred by the name of the Mutt they lead. Rules on succession are linked to an individual’s preparedness for the office rather than only by democratic ballot as is done to elect the Pope in Rome. All of the four current Shankaracharyas are attending the Mela.
Triveni


The meeting point of three rivers. This refers to the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamunah and the mythical Saraswati, which is believed to also pass through undergroung at this site.
VHP







Vishwa Hindu Parishad is a fundamentalist political party, which is in a coalition with the current ruling BJP government running the country. Their main platform for garnering votes is to carry forward the plan to build a Hindu temple on the site in the town of Ayodhya where it is believed, the God-man Ram was born. The problem with this plan is that the site had a mosque standing on it until Hindu fanatics demolished it on 6th December 1992 while police stood by, apparently helpless.
Yamunah





The river that feeds into the Ganga at the Prayag in Allahabad. Mythologically, Yamunah is considered to be the daughter of the Sun and the sister of Saturn and Yama (God of death). It is believed that bathing in the Yamunah during the Hindu month of Kartik (November/December) bestows longevity. Yamunah is associated with Lord Krishna and is one of the seven holy rivers of India.

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