This 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.
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.
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.