Kumbh Mela is one of the most important religious functions of the Hindu community. It is considered as the largest religious gathering in the world as millions of
s (saints) from various parts of the world gather together to take the royal bath in the sanctimonious Ramkund. Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortal Pot of Nectar - described in the Puranas
. Kumbh Mela literally means the festival of pot.
The pilgrimage occurs four times every twelve years, at each of the four locations - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. Each twelve-year cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbh Mela at Prayag, attended by millions of people, making it the largest pilgrimage gathering around the world. The pilgrimage is a 14 night / 15 day journey and covers Mumbai, Nasik, Shirdi, Aurangabad, Delhi, Lucknow,
Ayodhya, Allahabad, Varanasi and Delhi.
According to astrologers, the 'Kumbh Fair' during January-February, takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. It is believed that gods and demons jointly planned to churn the ocean of milk (
Palazhi), to secure the nectar of immortality. They agreed to share the nectar equally. Getting the nectar pot, the gods feared the consequences of the demons drinking their share of the nectar of immortality, and they forcibly seized the pot. They fled over the course of twelve days (twelve days of the gods are twelve human years) and by this time the amrit / nectar spilled on four places on earth - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. Thus these places gained mystical power.
‘Lapsi’ is the food item mainly prepared during this festive season.
The pilgrims make tents at these places and stay for a month. Also, fine accommodation facilities are available.