The Kumbh Mela is a spiritual festival in India where millions of people gather to bathe or take a dip in the sacred waters of a holy river. The Kumbh Mela is inscribed on the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is attended by millions of people irrespective of caste, creed or gender.
The festival is held at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik every four years by rotation. It involves different social and cultural activities, making it a culturally diverse festival. The event encapsulates the science of astronomy, astrology, spirituality, ritualistic traditions as well as social and cultural customs and practices, making it extremely rich in insights. Knowledge and skills related to the tradition are transmitted through ancient religious manuscripts, oral traditions, historical travelogues and texts produced by eminent historians. However, the teacher-student relationship of the sadhus in the ashrams and akhadas remains the most important method of imparting and safeguarding knowledge and skills relating to Kumbh Mela.
As explained above, it is held every three years in each of the four different locations (Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain), returning to each of these places after a gap of twelve years. Besides the regular Kumbh Mela, an Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela takes place six years after the Maha Kumbh in each of the locations.
The exact date when it takes place varies according to the position which the sun, moon and Jupiter hold in that period in different zodiac signs. It comes to Haridwar when Jupiter is in Aquarius and the sun is in Aries during the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April). In Allahabad, it is celebrated in the month of January-February when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and the sun and the moon are in Capricorn, during the Hindu month of Magha. In the Hindu month of Bhadraprada (August-September), when the sun and Jupiter are in Leo, the Kumbh Mela comes to Nasik. And Ujjain gets to organize it, when Jupiter is in Leo and the sun is in Aries or, when all three are in Libra, during the Hindu month of Vaisakha (April-May).