Kumbh Mela is a religious gathering of Hindu devotees along a holy river for bathing and prayers. The largest congregation on Earth is inscribed on the representative list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of India. It is held every 12 years at four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain. Each of these sites celebrate the occasion along a holy river- Ganga in Haridwar, Triveni Sangam- confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, Shipra in Ujjain and Godavari in Nasik. The mini versions of the event, Ardh Kumbh Mela is held at only two places, Haridwar and Allahabad, every sixth year between two Poorna Kumbha Melas.
The recent Ardh Kumbh Mela is all set to commence in 2019 on the holy banks of Triveni Sangam in Allahabad. The auspicious occasion falls in the month of Magh, according to Hindu calendar that is mostly between January-Februarys. According to astrological calculations the occurrence happens when Jupiter is in Aries, Sun and Moon in Capricorn; or Jupiter in Taurus and Sun in Capricorn. Also a Mini Kumbh Mela in the Hindu month of Magh (January- February) Mela is held every year in Allahabad only.
There is no concrete proof to the start of the Kumbh Mela. According to Hindu mythology, it dates back to the episode of Samudra Manthan, when Devas and Asuras churned the sea. From the event came forward a pot of Amrit (nectar of immortality). Both parties got involved and fought for 12 days. 1 day of the celestial beings were equated to 12 years in the human world, therefore Kumbh Melas are held after 12 years. During the struggle, few drops of nectar fell on Earth at these locations which are now deemed as holy spots. Ardh Kumbha Mela is held in 6 years in between two Purna Kumbha Melas, while the Maha Kumbha Mela comes in 144 years.
During the Kumbh Mela it is believed that the river waters at these holy sites are charged with divine powers. Therefore, ascetics, devotees and people from all walks of life take a dip in the river waters and cleanse their sins and ultimately attain salvation.