The origin of the Kumbh is very old and dates back to the time when Kalasha (pot of nectar of immortality) was recovered from Samudramanthan (during the churning of the primordial sea), for which a tense war between Devtas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) ensued. To prevent the Amrita Kalasha being forcibly taken into possession by Asuras, who were more powerful than Devtas, its safety was entrusted to the Devtas Brahaspati, Surya, Chandra and Shani. The four Devtas ran away with the Amrita Kalasha to hide it from the Asuras. Learning the conspiracy of Devtas, Asuras turned ferocious and chased the 4 Devtas running with Amrita Kalasha. The chase, lasted 12 days and nights during which the Devtas and Asuras went round the earth and during this chase, Devtas put Amrita Kalasha at Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik.To commemorate this holy event of the Amrita Kalasha Amrita being put at 4 places, Kumbh is celebrated every 12 years.According to other Pauranic legends, actual fight took place between Devtas and Asuras resulting in the Amrita Kalash being knocked, out of which (Nectar) fell down at the above 4 places.
The Religious Importance
The festival is religiously most important for the Hindus. At every Kumbh occassion, millions of Hindus take part in the celebrations. During 2003 Kumbh at Haridwar, more than 10 millions devoteed gathered at the site. Saints, priests, and yogis from all corners of India, gathered to participate in Kumbh. Haridwar is considered very holy, due to the fact that Ganga enter plains from mountains here itself.
The festival is visited by the most amazing saints from all across India. The Naga Sadhus are one such, who never any cloth and are smeared in ash. They have long matted hairs and are not at all affected by the extremes of heat and cold. Then there are the Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities. There are the Parivajakas, who have taken a vow of silence and go about tinkling little bells to get people out of their way. The Shirshasins stand all 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads. Spending the entire month of Kumbh on the banks of Ganga, meditating, performing rituals and bathing thrice a day, are the Kalpvasis.
It is believed that bathing during Kumbh cures the bather of all sins and evils and grants the bather, salvation. It is also believed that at the time of Kumbh Yog, the water of Ganga is charged with positive healing effects and that water at the time of Kumbh is charged positively by enhanced electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, Moon and the Jupiter, the flux of which also varies in accordance to positions and the phases of the moon, and also by the + and – signs of the sun spots