Simhastha

Simhastha a Parva of religious importance

Simhastha is the great bathing festival of Ujjain. It is celebrated in a cycle of twelve years when Jupiter enters the Leo sign of the zodiac, known as Simha Rashi. Ceremonial bathing in the holy waters of Shipra begin with the full moon day of Chaitra and continue in different intervals throughout the successive month of vaishakha culminating on tee full moon day. Tradition calls for ten different factors to be located for the grand festival at Ujjain. According to the Puranas, the legendary churning of the ocean by the gods (Devas) and demons (Danavas) yielded, amongst other things, a jar (Kumbha) full of nectar (Amrita). Gods did not like to share it with demons. At the instance of Indra, the master of gods, his son Jayanta tried to run away with the jar and was naturally followed by some of the demons.

Shipra aarti
Snana

During the struggle for its possession lasting over twelve days in the heaven, a few drops of the nectar dropped at the four places, corresponding with Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik on the earth. The Drops of nectar were well received by the holy rivers at these places. It is to commemorate the sprinkling of ambrosia into the sacred waters of Shipra that the Simhastha festival is celebrated at Ujjain. Festival at the other three places are known by the more popular name Kumbha The cycle of twelve Years is common to all the four places. As the struggle for the possession of the nectar-jar (Amrita-Kumbha) lasted for twelve days in the heaven, the corresponding period turned out to be twelve years on the earth, for the human beings.


Different planetary positions, like the crossing of Jupitar into Leo sign and certain other conjunctions for the fair at Ujjain, are noted for the kumbha-fair at these other places also. Besides being a city of remarkable cultural traditions, Ujjain is cited among the seven cities of sacred merit in India. Mahakaleshwar temple and the holy shipra have always attracted countless people to visit Ujjain through out the ages. The crowd of pilgrims and saints of various sects running into millions during the Simhastha presents a picture of mini India at Ujjain and one can well visualise here, as to what invisible forces bind this great Nation together.

A Procession of Sadhusl View

Simhastha - A Archaeological View Kumbha of Ujjain is also known as the Simhastha. It is just natural that on the occasion of this pious parva, Sadhus of various sects and pilgrims assemble in large number to take dips in the celestial Shipra river. Thus, the gathering takes the form of a very large-sized fair. Needless to say, such fairs at Kumbha-places are among the largest religious gatherings of the world. During the Muslim and Mughal periods, there has been no state arrangements for Simhastha. The process of such arrangements started during the Maratha Period. In 1740 A.D., when the founder of the Shinde dynasty, Ranoji shinde was ruling in Malwa with his headquarters at Ujjain, it was decided that it was the state- responsibility to provide facilities to the pilgrims. Simultaneously, the sadhus of the Dashanami, Udasina, Natha, Vaisnavite and Saivite faiths were invited from Nasik to take part in the holy   dips and to grace the occasion. *Luckily some archaeological evidence of such arrangements has been located at Ujjain during exploration. 

Ram Ghat

Shahi Snan

Shipra River

These evidences were verified by local hearsay and also by interviews conducted with some elderly people of Ujjain aged more than 90 years. One such interview was taken with Smt. Chandabi, a Muslim faqir lady residing near Lal Masjid, Ujjain and who died at the age of nearly 140 years a few years back.She was in sound health with every faculty in working order upto her last breath. She supplied the following information regarding the Kumbha of Ujjaini. "I have in all seen 11 Simhastha including that of 1980. I was of 10 or 11 years when I saw the Simhastha for the first time. At the time I saw only a few hundred sadhus who stayed under the shadow of trees. There were no differences among the various sects of the sadhus, whether they were Vaisnavites or Saivites. In the third or the fourth Simhastha, I witnessed quarrels among the sadhus on issue such as priority and the venue of the holy baths. The arrangement was mostly done by the state officials under the direct guidance of the Maharaja and the Wealthy donors. The gatherings of the sadhus were centralised at the Ankapata-Mangalanatha area and on the left bank of the Shipra in the west of the present Kalidasa udyana upto Mohanpura village. In the latter sector, the sadhus belonging to the Dashanami, udasina and the Natha sects stayed under the mango-groves in the Bag planted by the Chitnis family of Ujjain. No tents or decorations were done by the sadhus who appeared to be deeply rapt in meditation, austerities and satsanga with local devotees and pilgrims who visited them with great sincerity and enthusiasm