'Kumbh Fair' takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is held every 6th years at Haridwar and Prayag (Allahabad), the Purna (complete) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every twelve years at four places Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik.
-Prayag (near the city of Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three rivers Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna and mythical Saraswati.
-Haridwar (in the state of Uttaranchal Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas.
-Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of Ksipra river.
-Nasik (in Maharashtra) on the banks of Godavari river.
The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years, is held at Prayag.
Kumbh Mela is celebrated at different locations depending on the position of the planet of Jupiter and the sun. When Jupiter and the sun are in the zodiac sign Leo during the Hindu month of Bhadraprada (August-September) it is held in Trimbakeshwar (Nashik); when the sun is in Aries and Jupiter is in Aquarius during the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April) it is celebrated at Haridwar; when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and the sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magha (January-February) Kumbha Mela is celebrated at Prayag (Allahabad); and Jupiter and the sun are in Scorpio the Mela is celebrated at Ujjain. In 2013 the Purna Kumbh Mela will be held on Allahabad which occurs after every 12th years.
Next Kumbh Mela
2013 Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad (January 27 to February 25, 2013).
2015 Kumbh Mela in Nashik (August 15 to September 13, 2015)
2016 Kumbh Mela in Ujjain (April 22 to May 21, 2016)
Dates of Maha Kumbh Mela, Allahabad 2013
27 January to 25 February 2013
Main Bathing Dates 2013:
Paush Purnima – 27 January 2013
Ekadashi Snan – 6 February 2013
Mauni Amavasya Snan – 10 February 2013: MAIN DATE
Basant Panchami Snan – 15 February 2013
Rath Saptami Snan – 17 February 2013
Bhishma Ekadasi Snan – 18 February 2013
Maghi Purnima Snan – 25 February 2013
Kumbh means pot or pitcher. Mela means festival or fair. Hence, the Kumbh Mela means festival of the pot. It specifically relates to the pot of nectar in Hindu mythology. Legend has it that the gods once lost their strength. In order to regain it, they agreed with the demons to churn the primordial ocean of milk for amrit (the nectar of immortality). The Mandara Mountain acted as the churning rod and Vasuki (king of serpents) was used as a rope for churning. Kumbh was the pot which consist the nectar of immortality and was recovered from Samudramanthan. This was to be shared equally between them. They churned the ocean for 1000 years, where demons were holding Vasuki’s head and Gods were holding its tail. Finally after this entire churning process, Dhanwantari appeared with Kumbh in his palms. To prevent the amrita (elixir of immortality) from demons, its safety was entrusted to Gods Brahaspati, Surya, Shani and Chandra. After learning the conspiracy of the Devtas, demons turned vicious and attacked them. However, a fight broke out, which went on for 12 human years. During the battle, the celestial bird, Garuda, flew away with the Kumbh that held the nectar. Drops of nectar are believed to have fallen in the places that the Kumbh Mela is now held -- Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain.
It is believed that these drops gave mystical powers to these places. It is to make oneself gain on those powers that Kumbh Mela has been celebrated in each of the four places. Pilgrims who attend the Kumbh Mela come to see and listen to these men, in order to gain spiritual enlightenment. The main ritual performed at that Kumbh Mela is the ritual bath. Hindus believe that submerging themselves in the sacred waters on the most auspicious day of the new moon will absolve them and their ancestors of sin, thus ending the cycle of rebirth.