With a total 330 million gods, goddesses, and demigods, India remains as a land of religion. Hindus celebrate annual fairs on the rivers banks, and lakes shores, in the honor of Gods and Goddesses. In Hindu religion, fairs are called as 'Melas', which holds the prominent place during festivals. The origin of Kumbh festival is found in one of the most medieval Hindu Puranas - the Bhagavata Purana. The Samudra Manthan is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, the Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana.
According to the Hindu mythology, Durvasa Muni had cursed all Gods to lose their strength. All gods approached Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva to regain the strength. The demigods were instructed to churn the milky ocean(Ksheera Sagara) for Amrita (nectar of immortality). This is not possible only by Devatas, so Lord Shiva told gods, demigods and demons to conjointly churn the ocean and share it equally among them. The process of churning the ocean to get the nectar is known as 'Samudra Manthan'.
All gods, demigods and demons gathered on the shore of the Ksheera Sagara which was in the celestial region of the cosmos. The Mandrachal mountain became the churning stick, Nagaraja Vasuki (king serpents) served as the rope, and the Lord Vishnu himself took a form of a tortoise and became the base for the mountain, for the churning process. Then the Samudra Manthan started and continued for 1000 years of humans. It is said that one day of Devatas is equal to one year of human beings. The first to emerge in this process was a venomous poison. All gods were scared that if the poison fells in the ocean the whole world will get destroyed. Everyone sought the help of Lord Shiva to overcome this issue. In order to save the world, Lord Shiva decided to drink the poison. When Lord Shiva drank the poison, his wife goddesses Parvati held his neck and stopped the poison going in the body of Shiva, hence he got a name Neelkanth. As the churning continues, emerged Kamadhenu, Godesses Lakshmi, Airavata (vehicle of Lord Indra), and many other auspicious things arise from the ocean. Finally, Dhanvantari appeared with the "Amrit Kumbh", the nectar pot.
There are many stories about who snatched the Kumbh (pot of nectar), this is one of those. Lord Vishnu took the pot of nectar and flew away with Garuda. The guru of demons, Lord Shukracharya noticed this and alerted the demons to chase Vishnu. While carrying it, the pot was placed down at Prayag, Ujjain, Nashik, and Haridwar, to avoid Amrit pot going into demons hand. A few drops of elixir were dropped in these places. With the help of Sun, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, it was taken safely to heaven which took 12 demigod days. Since then these four places turned into holistic pilgrimages. This is why Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years at these four places. It is believed that these four drops gave mystical powers to these places.
|14/15th January||Monday / Tuesday||Makar Sankranti (1st Shahi Snan)|
|21st January||Monday||Paush Purnima|
|04th February||Monday||Mauni Amavasya (Main Royal Bath -2nd Shahi Snan)|
|10th February||Sunday||Basant Panchami (3rd Shahi Snan)|
|19th February||Tuesday||Maghi Purnima|
|04th March||Monday||Maha Shivratri|