The most important ritual in Kumbh Mela is Shahi Snan (Royal Bathing). First Shahi Snan is taken by the most revered Akhada of saints in India, Naga Akhada, followed by Niranjani, Vaishnava, Mahanirvani and Juna Akhada. After that, bath in Holy River Ganges is taken by the general public. Kumbh Mela's Akhada Procession is most watched and reported in the newspapers. Thousands of saints from Akhada take baths in the Ganges of the Holy River. It's really a beautiful scene-the sea of mankind, the ocean of tents, the colourful flags, lakhs of pilgrims dipping in the water to wash of their sins.
1. What is Shahi Snan (Rajyogi Snan) ?
Saints and their disciples or Akhadas ' Ascetics bathing on the auspicious days at specific time at river in the Kumbh Mela is called a Shahi Snan.
2. How does the Shahi Snan happen?
Shahi Snan begins at early morning at 4 a.m in Kumbh Mela. For Shahi Snan, the Akhadas ' Ascetics and Saints break out a gun-wielding procession accompanied by huge crowds. The locals decorate the procession's path well in advance with rangolis and petals. One by one, the Akhadas consisting of their saints and disciples take the route to the Shahi Snan's location. Playing music together with their Sawari such as Elephant, camels, horses, etc. Some Swamis are riding on elephants and some on tractor-trolley chariots. The devotees sprinkle flowers in the route. There are soundings of various musical instruments such as dhol, tasha, nagare, etc. They phrases & Slogans such as' Har Har Mahadev, Gauri Shankar, Jai Ganga Maiyya Ki jai etc.
Wearing garlands, holy Ash smeared on the body, carrying sparkling swords or other weapons and flags, thousands of nude Naga Sadhus with chants Slogan like Har har Mahadev, Har Har Gange. It looks mesmerizing and you feel like watching movie.
3. Why is Akhadas given preference in the Kumbh Mela for Holy Bath?
In the ancient times, Killing while defending Dharma was necessary for the Ascetics and Saints in Akhadas. Since a bath in the Ganga washes away sins, the Shahi Snan has been given preference to the weapons-bearing Ascetics and Saints in the Akhadas. Until today the tradition continues. The gun-wielding Ascetics and Saints ' Rajyogi snan (Shahi snan) is considered the Kumbh Mela's biggest event. The devotees are not bathing until the Ascetics have their Rajyogi snan (Shahi snan).
4. What happens after the Shahi Snan?
The Ascetics and Saints procession has darshan of the temples in the area after a Holy Bath and returns to their place of residence. The devotees are standing on both sides of the road, setting up arches and flags, and usually welcoming their darshan to the Ascetics and Saints. After this Holy Bath, the practice of receiving the Ascetics and Saints has been continued for many years.
At the time of the procession, intense dedication of the devotees is clear. Despite tight security, many women devotees came onto the road, touched the dust on the road and placed it on their foreheads.
When they return to their Akhadas after the Holy Bath, the devotees roam in the roads to seek the blessings of the Ascetics and Saints. For some time, some naked Ascetics pause and bless the devotees, whereas some Ascetics do not allow anyone to come close to them. Some ascetics are raising arms to drive the devotees away. Many ascetics are saying, "Don't touch my foot, my atonement is still not complete”.
After finishing the Shahi Snan the devotee and other people start taking Holy Dip in the River and wash off their sins.