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Why is Kumbh mela held in only four cities?

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Allahabad: Kumbh mela is organized in four cities of India — Haridwar, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain —after every 12 years. There are many legends associated with it in Hindu scriptures.

One such legend is the story of Samudra manthan or churning of the ocean.

It is believed that when Indra and the rest of the demi-gods lost all their strength because of Durvasa’s curse, the demons at-tacked them and emerged victorious.

Shukracharya, the Guru of the demons, possessed Mrut sanjeevni, a power that could revive the dead. This made the demons stronger.

The helpless demigods sought help from Lord Vishnu, who advised them to churn the ocean and recover Amrita, the elixir of life that would make them immortal.

As advised by Lord Vishnu, the demigods formed an alliance with the demons to jointly churn the ocean for Amrit and to share it among them. So, the demigods and demons began churning the ocean.

Mount Mandarachala was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the churning rope. The demons demanded to hold the head of  the snake, while the demi-gods, taking ad-vice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail.

Lord Vishnu took the form of a turtle, Kurma avatar, and supported the mountain on his back. Fourteen things came out of the ocean. In the end Lord Dhan-vantari, the doctor of the gods, emerged from the ocean with Amrita.

A fierce fight ensued between demigods and demons for Amrita. During the fight, four drops of Amrita fell on earth at four places — Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik.

These four places became sacred and as those drops fell in the rivers, devotees started taking a bath here.