Hindu Fasts & Festivals Hindu Spirituality Hindu Temples of India Temples of TamilNadu

Mahamaham : The Kumbha Mela of Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu celebrated every 12 years

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Mahamaham, also known as Mahamagham or Mamangam, is a Hindu festival celebrated every 12 years in the Mahamaham tank located in the holy South Indian town of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.

This 20-acre square tank surrounded by Shiva Mandapams is believed by Tamil Hindus to be very ancient, and the holy confluence of nine Indian river goddesses namely Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra & Kaveri.   

Mahamaham : The Kumbha Mela of Kumbhakonam

On the day of Mahamaham festival, the river goddesses and the Hindu God Shiva gather here to rejuvenate their waters, according to legend.

The Hindus consider taking a holy dip at the Mahamaham Tirtha during Mahamaham festival as very sacred. Mahamaham is symbolic equivalent of the renowned Kumbh Mela of Prayag in Uttar Pradesh. 

Mahamaham : The Kumbha Mela of Kumbhakonam


The Mahamaham tank is surrounded by small temple Mandapas with Vedic and Puranic Hindu deities, each with a Shiva Linga in the Sanctum. It also features the big Kashi Vishwanathar temple to its north.

At the entrance gate of the temple, there is the image of Shiva with nine Indian river goddesses : Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra, Kaveri, and Sarayu. Portions of the ancient tamil epic Periya Purana are inscribed inside the Mandapas and the temple.

Mahamaham : The Kumbha Mela of Kumbhakonam

The complete legend is found on the inner walls of the Kumbheshvara temple near the water pool. 

Astronomically, Mahamaham festival is celebrated when full moon  is passing Magha nakshatra (Leo sign) and Sun is on the other end in the opposite Aquarius sign (Kumnha Rasi). This comes once in twelve years when the planet Jupiter’s residence in Leo coincides with full moon in Leo.

On the day of the festival in the month of Magha, it is believed to bring all sacred Hindu rivers together and the water is rejuvenated.

Mahamaham : The Kumbha Mela of Kumbhakonam

The Festival :

Vast crowds of Hindu devotees gather at Kumbakonam to have a dip in the tank during this festival. All the rivers of India are believed to meet at the tank on this day and a purificatory bath at this tank on this day is considered equal to the combined dips in all the holy rivers of India.

Festival deities from all the temples in Kumbakonam arrive at the tank and at noon, all the deities bathe along with the devotees known as Theerthavari.

The temple cars of major temples in Kumbakonam come around the city on the festival night.

During the time of Mahamaham festival, it is believed that the famous Indian river goddesses GangesYamunaSarasvati RiverSarayuGodavari RiverTungabhadra RiverNarmada RiverKrishna River, and Kaveri River arrive here to rejuvenate and get repurified through Ganga and with Shiva’s blessing.

The images of the deities indicating the legend is housed in the nearby Kasi Viswanatha Temple. 

Mahamaham : The Kumbha Mela of Kumbhakonam

Mahamaham Tank :

Mahamaham Tank is a huge temple tank located in KumbakonamTamil Nadu, India. It is considered to be the foremost and one of the largest temple tanks in Tamil Nadu.

The annual Masimaham festival held in the tank has 100,000 visitors and the 12 year Mahamaham festival has close to 2 million visitors.

The tank is located in the heart of Kumbakonam town. It covers an area of 6.2 acres and is trapezoidal in shape. The tank is surrounded by sixteen small Mandapams (shrines) and has 21 wells inside the tank. The names of the wells carry the name of Hindu god Shiva or that of Rivers of India.

Govinda Dikshitar, the chieftain of Ragunatha Nayak of Thanjavur, constructed the sixteen Mandapams and stone steps around this tank.

Connected Shiva Temple :

Twelve Shiva temples are connected with Mahamaham festival which occurs once in 12 years in Kumbakonam. They are Kasi Viswanathar TempleKumbeswarar TempleSomeswarar TempleNageswara TempleEkambareswarar TempleGowthameswarar TempleAbimukeswarar TempleKambatta Visvanathar TempleBanapuriswarar TempleKahahasteeswarar TempleKoteeswarar Temple, and Amirthakalasanathar Temple.

Of these twelve, first ten temples temples are located in Kumbakonam town itself.

Connected Vishnu Temple

Five Vishnu temples are connected with this festival. They are Sarangapani TempleChakrapani TempleRamaswamy TempleRajagopalaswamy Temple, and Varahaperumal Temple. All these temples are in Kumbakonam. 

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By Mala Chandrashekhar

Though academically trained in modern Western Sciences, Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar is a crazy maniac of India's ageless, timeless ethnic arts, crafts & textiles. The rich & glorious cultural & spiritual heritage of India is a subject extremely dear to her heart, and the whole of this Blog has been dedicated to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide, to every nook & corner of the globe, through these simple Blog-posts. Any constructive criticisms & suggestions in this regard for improvement of the Blog 'MOST WELCOME'. Also, High-Quality Guest Blog-posts 'MOST WELCOME". LinkedIn Profile :