South’s Own Kumbh- Mahamaham 2016

Mahamaham 2016 held in the small temple town of Kumbakonam in South India went off peacefully with more than 40 lakh devotees taking a holy dip in the Cauvery delta. The festival of Mahamaham is akin to the famous Kumbh Mela which occurs once in 12 years and is the largest gathering of devotees to take a sacred bath in Haridwar in the holy waters of the Ganga, Ujjain in the River Shipra, Nasik in the River Godavari and Allahabad or Prayag at the confluence of the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi.

Like the Kumbh, Mahamaham is a gala event celebrated once every 12 years in a town called Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu, India. Hindus consider taking a holy dip at the Mahamaham tank on the day of Mahamaham as sacred. The last Mahamaham was celebrated on March 6, 2004, with people from various places taking the holy dip in the Mahamaham tank. The festival is determined by astrologers who calculate the planetary position and is observed during the full moon of the Tamil month of Maasi (February-March) when the conjunction of the moon with the lunar asterism (Magha Nakshatra) and when Jupiter is in the constellation of Leo. This Festival occurs when the sun is in the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius (Kumbha), Jupiter transists Leo(Simha) and the Moon is in conjunction with the constellation Maham. Generally all the these astronomical combinations take place on a full moon day of the Tamil Month of Masi(Solar Kumbha Month) i.e. either in the latter half of February or in the first of March.

Scriptures refer to the great significance of this festival. It is common knowledge that people normally expiate for their wrong deeds and wash off their sins with a dip in the holy rivers like Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Sarayu, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Pavoshni and Cauvery. These rivers heavy with the collective sin of mankind once approached Lord Brahma for a remedy to regain their purity. Lord Brahma advised them to meet together and take a purificatory bath during the Mahamaham festival which would ensure that they regain their blessed state again. So a bath in the Mahamaham tank during this period ensures that one has had a dip in all the holy rivers of India. This incident narrated in the Bhavishya Puran highlights the importance of this great festival.

The spectacular Mahamaham 2016 was held from 13 February to 22 February 2016.  Kumbakonam is referred to as Bhaskara Kshetra or the Sun’s own abode in the Puranas. All the deities from the major Shiva and Vaishnava shrines from the nearby temples arrived at the appointed hour on 22 February and were given a ceremonial bath called the Theerthavari Utsav, an event witnessed by lakhs of devotees who waited for the appointed hour with patience and piety as they could enter the holy waters after this celestial spectacle. Many heads of mutts, religious leaders and dignitaries attended the event. Foreigners, inland tourists and people belonging to many faiths stood shoulder to shoulder in the holy waters convinced that only a spirit of brotherhood and love could help the collective destiny of mankind.


Published On: 08-03-2016