This might come as a surprise to many readers. But, this is indeed the very first book on Magh Mela. As of now, the only book relevant to Magh Mela that is available in the market is a reproduction of the chapter on Magh Mahatmaya appearing in Padma Purana. But, that is purely mythological in content and does not deal with many aspects of the Magh Mela as it plays out in Allahabad.Everybody has heard of Kumbh Mela. But, how many of us have heard of Magh Mela? Does it surprise you to learn that Kumbh Mela is nothing but Magh Mela that is celebrated every twelfth year and Ardh Kumbh is nothing but the sixth Magh Mela celebrated between two Kumbh Melas? In other words, a mini version of the Kumbh Mela is celebrated in Allahabad year after year in the form of Magh Mela which goes almost unnoticed and unreported outside of Allahabad and Uttar Pradesh.Magh Mela is an incredible annual phenomenon in Allahabad (Prayag) from time immemorial. It is a monthlong Hindu festival that is celebrated in the month of Magh at Sangam or the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati. Magh Mela is marked by (snan) ritual bathing and taking up temporary residence near Sangam in the month Magh and leading an austere life devoted to prayers and rituals (kalpavas) according to their vows.The month of Magh begins with Paush Purnima and ends with Magh Purnima. But, the Magh Mela begins on Makkar Sankranti or Paush Purnima (whichever is earlier) and ends with Maha Shivaratri because of administrative reasons.Lord Vishnu is the presiding deity of Allahabad as well as the month of Magh which is considered to be the most auspicious month for Hindus. Allahabad is also known as Tirthraj Prayag. In other words, Allahabad is the king of pilgrimage sites for Hindus.Separate chapters are devoted to the most auspicious months of the Hindu calendar in the Puranas in the form of Vaishak Mahatmaya, Kartik Mahatmaya and Magh Mahatmaya explaining the significance of each month.The most important ritualfor Vaishak is charity (daan). Similarly, the main ritual for Kartik is offerings in the form of earthen lamps (deep daan); and, the main ritual for Magh is ritual bathing (snan).Therefore, Magh Mela is essentially a bathing festival coupled with kalpavas. And, Tirthraj Prayag is the sacred land that has been designated for Magh Mela by Hindu scriptures. That is the secret of Magh Mela.
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