This is a picture of a grandchild trying to understand the complexities of human life on the streets and this is not about reciting Jack and Jill or Ba Ba Black Sheep , these were lessons tutorials in street photography ..
The mothers agony is hidden behind the veil , her misplaced motherhood , her starving womanhood ,,begging for victuals not just for herself her child but those at home ..Is she forced to Beg ,, God Alone knows I shoot dont ask questions I shoot puzzles you solve them at leisure .
These are my Bandra Blogs ,,and I am revisiting them adding another dimension , de saturating the color element adding austerity in terms of tonal values of life.
We will shoot the beggars this year too, beggar tears dont dry from one Ramzan to the next .. so from Ramzan in 2007 to Ramzan in 2014 there is not much change , the veil is the same only the face behind the veil has changed and another child in this Muslim Madonnas lap.
Maybe shooting beggars might one day soon after I am dead and gone will become a Fine Art ..when we shoot beggars we shoot the husk of life devoid of humanity ,,
The beggar lost his humanity the day he sat on the wayside to beg , every coin adds to his shame , his deficiency his cosmic chaos ,,however in this case it is Misplaced Motherhood her tears her wares her goods ,, her child flesh of her flesh .. a pain nobody understood ,,
Ramzan is hope for beggars , and Muslim beggars like this bountiful month , I remember a beggar lady once told me why cant Ramzan last forever ,, the values of Ramzan should last forever , charity piety devotion dedication ,,
But Ramzan time you will find cheats with tiffin boxes , tempos blaring for charity and guys in skull caps knocking your door for Chanda Donation.. there may be a few genuine souls but very few ,,
And I shot captured the holistic power of this Holy Month , and this picture was shot on the first day of Ramzan many years back but does it matter and Marziya is now 6 ..it is her sister Nerjis soon to be 3 who shoots Muslim Beggars of Bandra.
I have cut down on shooting the foodlanes of Bandra hence I clubbed all my Ramzan sets like a collection from 2007 to 2014....
Ramzan is about the glimmer in a beggars eye , give food ration to a poor Muslim family in the slums and you have added hope and a smile on the receivers face.
And the biggest irony is those Muslims Non Muslims rushing to gobble Ramzan delicacies at Minara Masjid and the beggars watching you greedily ,,,even left over food for them is a feast ,, and once I broke my fast with beggars with this food and realized that the fasting stomach is happy adjusted to whatever it gets ,, Rizak that is what the Muslims call it..
The Beggar considers Alms Barkat his efforts Rozi..
Bara Handi , Nali Nihari , and Korma Paya for you but the beggar is happy with whatever is thrown in his beggars bowl.
So shooting beggars in Ramzan is shooting God in disguise ,,
I maybe wrong you maybe right ,,,it all comes down to that hungry bite ,,
I first met Appu at Chor Bazar he begged a few blocks away near the sweet shop close to Bohri Mohalla . and he sat here on Fridays before Namaz time , with a few Masjids o this road ..I came here those days to the street side Friday Chor Bazar flea market .
Initially when I shot his pictures , his guardians were upset thinking that I would sell his pictures to the foreign press make a lot of money giving them nothing but loose change.
I was hurt and was moving away when Appu called me apologized for his guardians behavior , and I was barefeet looked every inch a Malang.
We became good friends and I met him every Friday , but than he disappeared , and I stopped going to Chor Bazar completely .
I also shot him on Shabbarat night at Rehmatabad Shia cemetery..drenched in the rains ,,,begging with his sister .
i never saw him after this for a very long time ,,,
Than I met him accidentally sitting on the lane at Mahim that leads to St Michael Church , on Novena Wednesday,I gave him Rs 100 and he deserves it ..My friend Glenn Losack loved him the moment he saw him , and I took Marziya Shakir my grand daughter to meet him Marziya was perhaps two year old..shot their pictures .
So Appu has been part of my pictorial genesis , and I refuse to call Appu a beggar .
Appu also used to sit outside Minara Masjid I shot him there too.
I have not met Appu this year he hails from Assam , he wears a Muslim cap and the hard staunch Muslims who like a Muslim to look like a Muslim made him sport a beard too.
And now I have two grand daughters Marziya and Nerjis both want to shoot him .. but I have to find him first ..
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou find refuge: his truth is a shield and buckler.
I once had my workspace at St Peter Road close to St Peter Church Bandra and this is a road that is narrow , traffic from Bandra Bazar Road spills out at Bandra Hill Road near Balaji Restaurant , and traffic from Hill road takes this path as a short cut to Bandra Reclamation or Mount Mary.
This road borders the St Stanislaus grounds and the St Peter Church and against this wall you will find all the garbage of Bandra , it is garbage hotspot , those who drive by the ricksha throw out their garbage here , there is a spineless notice that says a Rs 10000 fine will be levied if you are caught throwing garbage has not stopped this menace..
By and large this is one of the filthiest lanes of Bandra perhaps even our MP and MLA s pass through this short cut off Baba Nagar....Brian of Bandra Speaker fame lives here , he is King of Speakers locally made and handcrafted by him..The other famous Brian is Brian Cable but he lives at Somnath Lane Bandra.
Well every time I was down depressed sad , unromantic mood and self destruct I used to take my Nikon those early days of my tryst with photography and shoot the Church , quadrangle , interiors and I dont think anyone , even a Christian could have shot St Peter Church as much as I have , I shot Jesus and the Holy Spirit trying to get some semblance of order in disorderly Bandra .
I shot the graves of the East Indian pioneers lying in the bower , the Jesuit priests in slumber , and sometimes moved ahead shot the St Staislaus school the race events , iconic feasts held there.
Once in the good old days of Fr Lawrie Serrao I would be invited to St Ignatius Loyola feast and all the old fogies thought I was a proud Stanislite ,, but their faces puckered when I told them I was from Holy Name and the Wodehouse parish,, It is another matter I wanted to become a Christian when I fell in love with a Goan Girl , heel over head was what I got from her mother , she told me over a glass of feni and water pickle I was welcome in their family but Firoze Fernandes sounded more lyrical than Firoze Shakir ,, I attended mass , I was at my best Christian self and now in retrospection married grandfather of 3 I still cant resist shooting Churches Crosses and Shrines .
Fr Jaun from St Peter Church is my godfather , and I have had some great friends among Catholic priests ,late Fr Leslie Ratus and Late Fr Stephan Nazareth of St Joseph Parish RC Church.
And this picture I had it blown up and presented to to Cardinal Oswald Gracias at Archbishop House as my love for the Christian Community and a Church called St Peter where God lives .
I am still living in a gaothan fighting for the rights of East Indians and hoping they are given the respect as the first early inhabitants of Amch Mumbai.
And this is a photoblog you can never read it in a camera club , the culture of camera club desists from using the word blogger a very derogatory term in their Ivory Tower of Fine Art Photography ,,
I shoot pictures , as I see them eclipsed on the soul of my poetry , I shoot Hinduism pictorially but I have limited knowledge , so for my foreigner friends followers I borrow text from Hindu blogs .
I have been shooting Pitru Paksha or Pitru Visajan since many years at Banganga Tank Walkeshwar .
I try not to miss it for two reasons , one I like Banganga , and secondly I like shooting street barbers , and mind you this event where the North Indian migrant from Uttar Pradesh comes in hordes to Banganga to appease his dead ancestors and participates in religious tonsure , shaving his scalp , beard , armpit , even nails of his fingers are clipped , and barbers are here in large numbers , even those guys wanting to make a fast buck become barbers for a day, cutting up the North Indian migrant badly ,,
The puja performers are predominantly North Indian Brahmins , the puja articles are sold by the Maharashtrian local ladies the pindis etc,,
The Banganga residents local leaders try their utmost to keep the tank clean, boats are used and the puja materials are immediately removed after immersion..you see a lot of photographers here documenting this feast.. but Bipin Kokate of Midday is always energetically in the forefront ,shooting the aesthetics of spiritual decorum and dignity.
I am a known face I shoot this event barefeet and shooting this ritual has been cathartic to my body mind and soul.
All this is part of my album Hope And Hindutva ,,and my 57000 blogs on Hinduism..a rich path of Wisdom Peace Hope and Harmony.
And for once I pray to God to open the windows of Mr Subramaniam Swamis congested mind , that even Muslims like me contribute to the richness of our culture despite our diverse ideologue ,,we are two sides of a single coin Mother India ..even parrots can recite Vande Matram but nationalism comes from within deep down of the fountain of our origins ,,
The ritual of sraddha
From the Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section LXXXIV + Sec.XCII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Bhishma said: When my father Santanu of great energy departed from this world, I proceeded to Gangadwara for performing his Sraddha. My mother, Jahnavi, coming there, rendered great help.
Having with a concentrated mind performed all preliminary rites as laid down in the scriptures, I set myself to duly offer the obsequial cake. Reflecting then, by the light of the scriptures, the conviction soon came upon me that the ordinance does occur in the Vedas that the cake should not be presented into the hand of him whose Sraddha is performed. The Pitris do not come in their visible forms for taking the cake.
On the other hand, the ordinance provides that it should be presented on the blades of Kusa grass spread on the earth for the purpose. What I did was perfectly consistent with the scriptural ordinance.
In making offerings at Sraddhas a share is first offered to the deity of fire(Agni). If a portion of the offerings be first made to the deity of fire at a sraddha, Rakshasas of regenerate origin
cannot then do any injury to such a sraddha. Beholding the deity of fire at a Sraddha Rakshasas fly away from it.
The ritual of Sraddha is that the cake should first be offered to the deceased father. Next, one should be offered to the grandfather. Next should one be offered to the great-grandfather. Even this is the ordinance in respect of the Sraddha. Over every cake that is offered, the offerer should with concentrated attention utter the Savitri Mantra. This other Mantra also should be uttered, viz., unto Soma who is fond of the Pitris.
A woman that has become impure in consequence of the advent of her season, or one whose ears have been cut off, should not be allowed to remain where a Sraddha is being performed. Nor should a woman (for cooking the rice to be offered in the Sraddha) be brought from a Gotra other than that of the person who is performing the Sraddha.
While crossing a river, one should offer oblations of water unto one's Pitris, naming them all. One should next offer such oblations of water to one's deceased friends or relatives. From them that cross a river on boats, the Pitris expect oblations of water. Those that know this always offer oblations of water with concentrated attention unto the Pitris. Every fortnight, on the day of the new moon, one should make offerings unto one's deceased ancestors. growth, longevity, energy, and prosperity become all attainable through devotion to the Pitris.
Even this is the high ritual in respect of the Sraddha. Through Sraddhas performed on earth the deceased members of ones race become freed from a position of misery. I have thus,
O prince of Kuru's race, expounded to thee agreeably with the scriptures, the ordinances in respect of Sraddhas.
One thing if you love shooting faces , people , beggars , than the Kumbh is the best place to hone your skills as a street photographer.
And if you love shooting rituals , customs monks Sadhus Nagas and Aghoris and Tantrics than Kumbh is in your backyard.
And if you befriend a good Sadhu , from a reputed ashram, than it becomes all the more easier.
When I shot the Nasik Kumbh I did not know anybody , no contacts nothing , but than I met Shri Vijay Giri Triveni from Juna Akhara who has his ashram near Film City Mumbai I became his friend stayed with him at Sadhugram Trimbakeshwar on the eve of the Shai Snan shot the ling kriya , sadhus pulling a car with their penis ,,
I could not accompany him to the Shai Snan Trimbakeshwar tank but pushed my way through and shot part of it ,,seems a long time now .
And so the contact that I built at Nasik helped me shoot the Maha Kumbh, and I did not want to shoot the Maha Kumbh as a photographer so I became a part of them.. on the Basant Panchmi Shahi Snan my Guru dressed me up as a Sadhu with ash on my forehead I shot the Kumbh as a
There was someone else who helped me a lot I can only say a prayer for her she is not alive and I hope God Grants her Freedom from everything..
I shot her pictures her short lived life at the Maha Kumbh ,, but have removed them from public domain..
"We do not know which weight is worse to bear
our conquering them or their conquering us."
hung from a tree
stare ..dead they
are still scarred
silent ..a pain
with you they
share ...a father
i am sure you
do care ..
by cosmic fate
are not raped
what they wear
boys will be boys
even angels fear
to dare ..
on a winter cold morning
on the banks of the ganges
a naga guru pensive sad
i shot all alone in a crowd
flooded by old memories
of earlier kumbhs agony
ecstasy of his thoughts
i tried to capture decipher
each one of them in the
fishermans net i caught
at that very hallowed
solemn spot ..
a muslim photographer poet
held by a slender thread in a
cosmic plot ..overwrought
his cultural inheritance that
had pulled him from mumbai
his jouney into a saffron world
of vermilion tiny dots the chant
of har har mahadev from the
soul of his camera on to your
hearts he bought .amrit nectar
of humility humanity as offerings
from his guru he got ..for once
his caste color creed he forgot
shot after shot after shot..stealing
curds from Krishnas pot ,,,,
Basant Panchami Shahi Snan Maha Kumbh.the winds whispered beggar
poet ,,once home forget me not ,,,
we are born we die become air
fire water wind ..mankinds lot .
On this auspicious God sent Day while heading towards the banks of the Ganges for the Royal Bath or Shahi Snan , the Naga Sadhus are over excited , some of them high in spirits , rushing adrenalin , and if you are not cautious you can be attacked by a few volatile hot headed sadhus , either with their sticks or even the swords or trishul..perhaps because some press photographer , or foreign photographer steps in their way making them all the more agitated .
As I was dressed in white and looked like a Sadhu I saved a lot of unwary photographers from getting beaten..but than the photographers the crowds and the stupid cops of UP are over excited too, the cops have no inkling about handling the Naga Sadhus , they are abusive rude and insulting to the foreign photographers ..and we talk of Devo Atithi Bhava..there is no Press Stand here at the Sangam , preferential treatment for VVIP photographers is possible , you have to pull strings in high places .
I pity the Photo Blogger but because of his ability to become a reptile in such situations he gets away with some good shots too..
I was with my Guru a Naga Sadhu and Kotal Naga Cop so I was lucky to be at the right place right time..
There is no discipline , here at all badly stage managed , and absolutely no disaster management on this side of the banks.. whatever lifeguards etc are on the boats of the baks a small place left for the Holy Dip , in which even the crowds keeps pushing in
Most of them are Bhakts of the various Akhadas with their families ..
kehte hain aurat ko devi
karte hain uska gang rape
darakt par usko phansi dekar
karte hain use pesh..
going to the dogs ..
womens safety in unruly
uttar pradesh ..tears on
the soul of womanhood
on our bharat desh..
in rape van winklish stupor
somnolent beneath the surface
Kumbh Mela is the greatest pilgrimage and festival in the Hindu religion. The event is a religious and cultural spectacle which occurs once in 12 years attracting participants from around the globe to take a dip in the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati. Maha Kumbh Festival 2013 was one of the biggest congregations in the history of mankind.
When Guru (Jupiter) and the Sun are in the zodiac sign Leo(Simha Rashi), the Kumbh is celebrated in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik.
Next Kumbh Mela will be held at Nashik in year 2015.
Nashik Maha Kumbh Mela 2015
Nasik Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela is the most eventful and significant spiritual get-together for Hindus in India. It is held once in every Twelve years. at Four important pilgrim centers take turns to host it. These are Nasik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar. Every 12th year, the Kumbh Mela is held on a grand scale at each above cities. This grand celebration is called Puran Kumbh.
Nashik is the centre for Kumbh in the state of Maharashtra. Millions pilgrims go to the Nasik Kumbh Mela and take a dip in the holy waters of Kushavarta and Ramkund. The Kumbh at Nashik is believed to be the most sacred festival of all.
The Sadhus who visit the Kumbh in large numbers reside in the Tapovan which is situated at the left bank of river Godavari.
Climate In Nashik
The climate in Nasik is pleasant throughout the year except for the summer months from March – Mid June. The summers are very hot and the maximum temperature can go up to 42°C and it is advisable to avoid going to Nasik during this time. Nasik enjoys medium rainfall from June to September and it is a good time to visit. The Winters are from December to February and the climate is pleasant. This is the best time to go there.
Since Nashik is one of the important cities of Maharashtra, it is well-connected by road, rail and by air with all parts of India. It is 185 Kms away from Mumbai and one can reach there via NH-3. Pune is 220 kms. Deluxe and luxury buses are available from Shirdi, Pune, Aurangabad and Mumbai. There are two airports near Nasik – Pune and Mumbai and both are 175 Kms from Nashik. Nasik is well-connected to many cities and towns via railway, since it is one of the important stations of the Central Railway.
The Story behind Kumbh
The holy water Amrit had to be protected from the demons. The demigods hide it at different places namely Patllok, Swargalok and Mrutyulok. They were on the earth (Mrutyulok) for twelve days of demigods which is equal to twelve years of earth for them. The gods stayed on the earth with the Amrut for twelve years. Therefore, the Kumbh Mela is celebrated every 12 years at four places where drops of Amrut had fallen.
The Kumbh Mela is celebrated depending upon the position of the stars and planets. When Guru (Jupiter) and the Sun are in the zodiac sign Leo(Simha Rashi), the Kumbh is celebrated in Trimbakeshwar, Nasik. When the Sun is in the zodiac sign Aries(Mehsa Rashi), the Kumbh takes place at Haridwar. When Guru(Jupiter) is in the zodiac sign Taurus(Vrishabha Rashi) and the sun is in the zodiac sign Capricorn(Makkar Rashi), it is celebrated at Prayag. When Guru(Jupiter) and the Sun are in the zodiac sign Scorpio(Vrishchik Rashi), it is celebrated at Ujjain.
Shri Shankaracharya had once appealed to his disciples of the Vaidik Dharma to come together at the time of the Sinhastha Kumbha Mela, while he was recognizing the importance of the Kumbha. The devotees and pilgrims along with people from various religions and sects assemble for the kumbha adter following Shri Shankaracharya’s appeal.
The next Kumbh Mela at Nashik will be celebrated in the year 2015. The festival will start on 14th July and will continue for a year.
14th July 2015TuesdayFlag hoisting of the main ceremony at Ram Kunda
14th August 2015FridayFlag hoisting of the Akhara at Sadhugram
29th August 2015SaturdayFirst Shahi Snan
13th September 2015SundaySecond Shahi Snan
18th September 2015FridayThird Shahi Snan
For more information on Kumbh Mela, follow the link to the facebook page Kumbh Mela
I wear only black, and I had no other dress in my suitcase , so my Guru borrowed 2 white dhotis for me , and I wore my leopard print vest and walked towards the Sangam on the Chant of Har Har Mahadev .
15 Feb freeing cold winter chill , and I took a dip with my Naga Guru , a sublime experience as a humanbeing and as a photographer.
And the Naga Sadhu next tome thought I was a Sadhu too, but I kept up the pretense of being Ashok Bharti the name my Guru called me on such charged occasions..
libaas hai phata hua, ghubaar mein ata hua tamaam jism e naazneen, chida hua, kata hua yeh kaun zeewaqaar hai, bala ka shahsawaar hai ke hai hazaaron qaatilon, ke saamne data hua yeh bil yaqeen Hussain (A.S.) hai, Nabi(SAW) ka noorey ain hai ke jiski eik zarb se, kamaal’e fann e harb se kai shaqi girey huey, tarap rahe hain karb se ghazab hai teighay do-sarr, ke eik eik waar par uthi sadaa’e "alamaan", zabaan e sharq o gharb se yeh bil yaqeeN Hussain (A.S.) hai, Nabi(SAW) ka noorey ain hai yeh kaun haq parast hai, maey redha se mast hai ke jiske saamn’e koi, buland hai na pust hai udhar hazaar ghaat hai, magar ajeeb baat hai ke eik se hazaarha ka hausla shikast hai yeh bil yaqeen Hussain (A.S.) hai, Nabi(SAW) ka noorey ain hai aba bhi taar taar hai, to jism bhi figar hai zameen bhi hai tapi hui, falak bhi shola baar hai magar ye mard e teigh zann, ye saff shikan, falak figan kamaal e sabr o tandehi se mahwe kaarzaar hai yeh bil yaqeen Hussain (A.S.) hai, Nabi(SAW) ka noorey ain hai dilawari mein fard hai, bara hi sheir e mard hai ke jiske dabdab’e se, dushmanon ka rung zard hai habib e Mustafa(SAW) hai ye, mujaahid’e Khuda hai ye jabhi to iske saamney, ye fauj gard bard hai yeh bilyaqeen Hussain (A.S.) hai, Nabi(SAW) ka noorey ain hai udhar sipaah’e Shaam hai, hazaar inteqaam hai udhar haiN dushmanaan’e deeN, idhar faqat Imam hai magar ajeeb shaan hai, ghazab ki aan baan hai ke jis taraf uthi hai teigh, bas Khuda ka naam hai yeh bilyaqeen Hussain (A.S.) hai, Nabi(SAW) ka noorey ain hai Poet: Hafeez Jalandhari, the same gentleman who wrote Pakistan's national anthem.
I met this humble soul when I took a bus for Shastri Nagar Bus Depot ,, Bus No 356 .
He sat besides me at close of our journey and we were talking about the heat humidity and a rainless Mumbai,,
Than I asked him how many kids he had he said three , the eldest a daughter was doing her MBBS , and was going to become Doctor ,,he has two daughters one son and all his savings part of his Provident Fund he had utilized for the furtherance of their higher education.
And he is a migrant from Uttar Pradesh but he spoke chaste Marathi and had made Mumbai his home..
His name is Vaidya Panday I think as I am bad with names numbers , and I shoot stories of humility like this..
And in the bus you meet all kinds of people , drunks crazies, fighter cocks , nagging women waiting to get into a fight at the drop of a coin , but he has to remain polite cool and he is a Hindu, the guy who was driving the bus was a skull cap bearded Miya and both got along well .
As he was driving I could not chat up with him or tell you his part of the story..
Bu all in all these are clogs that Mumbai Mumbai .. Mumbai Meri Jan.
I had shot the Nasik Kumbh, but the Maha Kumbh was a different ballgame this was Uttar Pradesh I was miles away from Mumbai and this was a huge Kumbh that had come after 144 years ..
And the man in the picture made it possible for me , he made me a Sadhu tto shoot the Sadhus ,,he is the Naga Guru on whose invitation I came to absorb the cosmic colors of the Kumbh.
He is a teacher who gave up domestic life to become a Naga Sadhu born and bred in Karnataka he made the jungles his home at Flim City Mumbai.
He is an artist very good at drawing , he used to draw Muslim Holy Places on the floor close to Haji ali Dargah and earn alms , till a humble Muslim gave him Rs 500 and told him that people stamp on it and it desecrates a thought .. he stopped drawing completely.
He used to beg on the mountains close to Haji Malang but was robbed of his belongings , he saw tough life .. but he respects all Faith quotes from the Holy Koran.. and when I met at Nasik Kumbh his driver was a Muslim..
And I was the second Muslim to live with them at Trimbakeshwar.. I could not accompany him to the Shahi Snan at Nasik but we kept in touch and I like him , he came home met my family and a bond was created .
His name is Shri Vijay Giri Triveni of Juna Akhada he stays now at his Shanti Ashram at Santosh Nagar off Dindoshi Film City.
All these images , moments , feelings sentiments I have showcased are because of him , he did not want to leave at the Sangam as the cops were beating photographers , so I exited with him.. leaving behind a great photo opportunity with no regrets ..
Because of him I met the Sabapati, Maha Mandleshwars , and where he felt there would be animosity among some hardcore Hindu right wingers he introduced me as Ashok Bharti..photohrapher thinker poet.
He has not been well and the day we were leaving Allahabad in the heavy rains I carried his belongings on my shoulder and drenched to the bone got him access to the Allahabad Station they were not allowing people inside the concourse without valid ticket , I had a ticket and a Press Card so his entourage walked in and took a train for Mumbai in a challu dabba while I waited for my train that was late in the evening.
I have not met him , nor talked to him a long time now but we are cosmically connected , he will call me for the Nasik Kumbh ,, I know that and he knows it too.
The origin of Kumbha Mela lies in the beautiful story of the time when the gods and demons churned the ocean in search of the nectar of immortality.
The fight between good and evil has existed from time immemorial. According to the story, the demons were always fighting with their brothers, the gods. However, the gods did not want to fight; they remained peaceful and calm. This did not deter the demons from killing them, though. Hence, the forces of good were falling to the forces of evil. One day, the devas went to Lord Brahma and said, “We are losing so many of our brothers and sisters in the never-ending war with the demons! If this continues, none of us will be left. Please help us!” Lord Brahma told them to go to Lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu listened to their story and sympathetically responded, “If you churn the great milky ocean, you will find a gold pot of nectar. He who drinks this nectar will be blessed with the boon of immortality. However, you are not strong enough to churn the ocean yourselves. You must attain the help of your brothers, the demons.”
The gods were in great distress. “But, Lord Vishnu,” they said. “If the demons know that the reward of churning will be immortality, they will take the nectar all for themselves. Then we will be in even more trouble! Alternatively, if we hide from them the reason, they will never agree to help us.”
Lord Vishnu assuaged them and told them to simply go and request help from the demons. So, the gods left the abode of Lord Vishnu and successfully convinced their demon brothers to help with the task. The churning of the great milky ocean by the gods and the demons became a momentous event. The snake Vasuki offered himself to serve as the rope required for churning, and Lord Vishnu Himself became a huge turtle on whose back they could easily churn.
So, the fantastic churning began with the hope of divine nectar filling the minds of the gods. However, after a great deal of effort, what emerged was not nectar, but poison! The gods and demons knew that in order to continue churning, they could not simply toss the poison aside. Someone had to drink it. So, a conflict began. Who would drink the poison and thereby allow the historic churning to continue? No one would agree to sacrifice himself, until Lord Shiva came forward and said, “I will drink the poison if it will preserve peace and enable my brothers and sisters to attain the nectar of immortality.” The sacrifice Lord Shiva made an example of why He is Maha Deva and all the other gods are simply devas: this selflessness and dedication to the welfare of others.
After more churning, at last out of the murky waters emerged fourteen precious jewels, including Goddess Lakshmi, Kamadhenu (the wish-granting divine cow), along with many other treasures. At the end, Lord Vishnu Himself appeared, holding the precious Kumbha in His hands.
However, Indra – the King of the gods – knew that the demons were planning to abscond with the treasure of immortality. So, he immediately signaled to his son, Jayant, who lept forward, grabbed the pot of nectar and quickly ran away. The demons, however, were stronger and quicker than Jayant and they pursued him relentlessly. Indra sought aid from Jupiter (Guru), Surya (the Sun), the moon and Saturn to protect his son and preserve the Kumbha. The long chase lasted twelve days, which was the equivalent of twelve years on Earth. During this chase – which traversed the realms of the Earth, the heavens and the moons – Jayant rested only four times. While he rested, he placed the Kumbha on the ground and a few drops of holy nectar spilled onto the Earth in each place. It is these four places that have now become the four centers of pilgrimage for the Kumbha Mela.