There are four Kumbh Melas (Fairs) that happen in India and have great religious importance. Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv, occurs every 12 years, when there is a celestial line-up of planets and zodiac signs held in the city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India, on the banks of river Kshipra.
The four Kumbh Melas are held at Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Nasik and Ujjain. The events are marked by the holy dip of millions of people in holy rivers in order to attain salvation (Moksha). At Ujjain, the mela is named as “Simhasth Kumbh’” because Lord Surya (Sun) takes his place in the zodiac sign called Aries (Mesh in Sanskrit) and Jupiter (Lord Brahaspati) takes his place in the zodiac sign- Leo (Simha).
These four Kumbh Mahaparv have their significance going back to Samudra Manthan (Churning of Ocean) between Suras (Gods) and Asuras (Demons). Kumbh Mahaparv literally means “pot of immortality” and it could also be known as Amrit Kund (Jar of nectar) which is mentioned in the two greatest Epics on earth – The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. It is also mentioned in Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana.
It is believed that during ‘Samudra Manthan’, a jar or pot (Kumbh) of nectar (Amrit which can make one immortal) was found and the Gods had to save this nectar from demons and hence Lord Indra’s son Jayanta took the pot with him. While he was trying to save the Amirt, drops of it fell in rivers in Haridwar, Nasik, Prayag and Ujjain. Every 12 years, when there is a certain line-up of planets and sun-signs, millions of pilgrims visit these four places and indulge in taking a holy bath at the rivers and pray to get rid of their sins and attain Moksha (Salvation), which would put an end to the cycle of birth-death-rebirth. At Ujjain, during the Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv, people take a dip in the river Kshipra at a defined time on particular days which are noted to be the time when the drops of nectar from the kumbh were dropped in the sacred river.
This year (2016), the Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv at Ujjain is organized from April 22nd to May 21st (that is, Chaitra Shukla purnima – Vaishakha Shukla purnima, Vikram Samvat). It is estimated that around 5 crore Hindu pilgrims from around the world would gather at Ujjain and participate in the holy dips that would take place for a month.
People also visit Mahakaleshwar jyotirlinga and other ancient temples in and around Ujjain and they involve in satsang and sankirtan with great sadhus to find solace.
Kumbh melas signify the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम) which means the whole world is a family and hence millions of people from across the world participate in this celebration.
Take a note of the itinerary of the Mahaparv at Ujjain, join in the celebration and take a dip in the holy river.
May Lord Shiva bless you all!