A fascinating Vedic Epic
Legend tells a tale from the bygone days of the universe when the demigods and the demons conjointly produced the nectar of immortality. The demigods, because cursed, were crippled of fear that eventually made them weak. The task being too sturdy for them alone, the demigods made a mutual agreement with the demons to complete it in full and share the nectar of immortality in half. It is said that the demigods and the demons assembled on the shore of the milk ocean that lies in the celestial region of the cosmos.
Finally, many hurdles and 1000 years later, Dhanwantari appeared with the Kumbh (pot) of immortal nectar in his hands. The demigods, being fearful of the demons’ ill intent, forcibly seized the pot and eloped.
Demons, after learning that their part of the agreement has not been kept, went after the demigods and for 12 days and 12 nights, the chase continued. Wherever the demigods went with the pot of nectar, fierce fighting ensued. It is believed that during this chase, a few drops from the Kumbh fell at four places – Prayagraj (earlier Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik.
Ever since the four holy cities are believed to have acquired mystical powers. Because 12 days of Gods are equivalent to 12 years for humans; the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once every 12 years in each of the four places.
The Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj is deemed to be the most auspicious as it is celebrated on the banks of the meeting point (Sangam) of two holy rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. The Kumbh Mela would be celebrated from the 15th of January to the 4th of March, with a few dates in-between which are considered to be the Shahi Snan or the Royal Bathing dates.