The Kumbh Mela will formally commence in Nashik-Trimbakeshwar with the Dhwajarohan (Flag hoisting ceremony) on July 14.
The festivities have, however, been marred with conflict in Nashik where ascetics of the Vaishnav sect have decided to stay away from the ceremony and hold a separate ceremony of their own on August 14.
Tuesday’s flag hoisting which will beheld at the Ramkund reservoir in Nashik and the Kushavrat reservoir in Trimbakeshwar is being held by the Purohit Sangh which is a body of local priests. The Purohit Sangh’s will mark the commencement of Kumbh by mounting a massive 15 ft by 4 ft flag, which will be mounted on a special brass flagpole.
Sadhus of Trimabkeshwar, who are Shaivites, have agreed to take part in the flag hoisting ceremony, while those of the Vaishnav sect who celebrate the Kumbh in Nashik have claimed that they will have their own independent flag hoisting on August 14.
“The Akhada Parishad has nothing to do with the Dhwajarohan that will take place on July 14. We will have our independent flag hoisting programme in August,” Mahant Gyandas Maharaj President of the Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad said.
Officials of the Purohit Sangh have claimed that they have twice sent invitations to the Akhada Parishad and it was now upto the Sadhus to decide whether they want to be a part of the function or not.
The flag hoisting, which will signal the commencement of the Kumbh Mela will take place at 6:16 AM on Tuesday morning.
Members of the Purohit Sangh are expecting Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Central Ministers to show up for the function. The Kumbh has been marred by conflicts between the Sadhus, local priests and the administration. Officials claim that the conflict between Sadhus and priests is primarily about how should get more honour.
The Kumbh Mela will take place between July to September in Nashik and Trimabkeshwar. A bloody conflict in 1790 between sadhus of the Vaishnav and Shaivite sects over who would have the right of taking the first holy dip claimed the lives of 12,000 ascetics. This bloodbath had forced Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao to limit Vaishnavs to take the Kumbh dip in Nashik while Shaivaites were limited to the distant village of Trimbakeshwar.
The total duration of the Kumbh stretches from 14 July 2015 till 11 August 2016. There are however three auspicious days of the Shahi Snan in which maximum crowds are expected. The three days in Nashik are on August 29 and September 13 and 18. The Shahi Snan days in Trimbakeshwar are on August 29 and September 13 and 25. Nearly three lakh Sadhus are expected to be in these two areas during the period of the Kumbh.
The number of people expected in Nashik during the three auspicious days of Shahi Snan is between 80 lakh to one crore. In Trimbakeshwar the number is between 25 to 30 lakh. The number is almost the double of the crowd turnover in the 2003-04 Kumbh.
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