Kumbakonam mahamahamThis Festival occurs when the sun is in the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius(Khumbha), Jupiter transists Leo(Simha) and the Moon is in conjunction with the constellation Maham. Generally all the these astronomical combination 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. The festival comes off once in 12 years.
Mahamaham bathing festival is concentrated on a single day, the concourse of pilgrims being all the more. The festival at Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and those in Andhra Pradesh happen to be bathing in river while the Mahamaham is bathing in a tank, generally followed or preceded by a dip in the River Cauvery at Kumbakonam.
The Centre of the Mahamaham festival is the Mahamaham Tank, a holy pool of nectar that followed out of Lord Brahma's Kumbha after it has been broken by Lord Siva's arrow shot. This Mahamaham tank is situated to SouthEast of the Adi Kumbheswarar Shrine, the principal ancient Lord Siva Shrine of the place. The Mahamaham tank, trapezoidal, (looking rectangular) in shape covers roughly an area of about five acres and a half with a full capacity depth of ten feet.
It is Holier than Varanasi(Kasi). There is an oft quoted popular saying in Sanskrit noting Kumbakonam as even as more sacred than Varanasi(Kasi). A sin committed at some ordinary place is washed off by a visit to a holy place. Sin done in a sacred spot is washed off by going on a pilgrimage to Varanasi(Kasi). If one dares to commit a sin in that sacred city too, that sin is wiped off at Kumbakonam and any sinful act done at Kumbakonam is atoned for there itself.
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