The Kumbh Mela is considered the world’s largest religious gathering. Millions of people gather at particular places on the banks of one of four rivers during a specific auspicious period, and take a holy dip in the river. It is believed that doing so will wash away the sins of that person and his ancestors. There are various types of Kumbh Melas, and they occur at specific times.
The Poorna Kumbh Mela takes place once in 12 years in one of four places, by rotation. This means there is at least a three-year gap between each mela. The Ardh Kumbh Mela happens once in six years, and the Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in 144 years.
The four places where Poorna Kumbh Melas are held are Allahabad/Prayag in UP, Haridwar in Uttarakhand, Nashik, in Maharashtra and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. In Ujjain, it is held on the banks of the river Shipra, in Nashik, the Godavari, in Haridwar, the Ganga, and in Allahabad, at the spot where the Ganga and the Yamuna are supposed to join the mythical river Saraswathi. Ardh Kumbh Melas are held at Haridwar and Allahabad/Prayag while the Maha Kumbh Mela is always held at Allahabad/Prayag.
The belief is that when some of the planets are lined up in a certain formation in the universe, they have a very powerful effect on humanity. The Kumbh Melas are held during these periods. Because they are based on astrological calculations, the Melas may sometimes have a gap of only one year.
The last Maha Kumbh Mela was held in February2013. So the next one will be only in 2157.
The Ardh Kumbh Mela will start on January 14th 2019 at Allahabad/Prayag and go on for about 50 days.