This tale begins with the ruler of the sky, the god of the gods, a divine entity with insurmountable strength and limitless stamina, the great Lord Indra. Our story begins as Indra was on one of his many journeys across the universe, on his elephant Airavat. On meeting the great sage Durvasa Muni, he was offered a garland. Instead of thanking the sage, Indra threw the garland onto the tusk of his elephant, apathy flashing on his face clear as day. The garland was trampled to bits. On seeing what had ensued, Airavat was greatly insulted. In his rage, the revered sage cursed Indra, saying that he and all the other gods, would lose all their power.
After losing battle after battle against the demons, Indra finally realised the curse was true, and went to Lord Vishnu, to help him find a solution. Vishnu announced that the gods would have to retrieve the magical nectar-amrita out of the deep ocean, and only on drinking it would they get their powers back.
The ‘Samudra Manthan’ which means the churning of the oceans, was not an easy task. The gods and demons both got together and using a huge mountain called Mandara as a pole, began to stir the waters. Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise ‘Kurma’(which is his second avatar) and kept the mountain on his back, so it does not slip into the depths of the ocean. Vasuki, a gigantic snake, was tied to the pole, and everyone began to pull it from either side. The water began to sway and the waves turned to whirls, and from amidst the currents, first came out a poisonous substance. On seeing this liquid, demons & gods alike were terrified. They feared it would destroy the entire universe. They prayed to Lord Shiva for his help & guidance. Shiva drank the poison but did not swallow it. The poison turned his throat turned blue and since then he came to be known as Neelkantha meaning the blue-throated god.
The poison was not the only substance coming out of the water. Laxmi the goddess of wealth, Kamdhenu, the wish-granting cow, Kalpavriksha-the wish-fulfilling tree & Dhanavrati- with the nectar-amrita as well a book of medicine called Ayurveda, were the gifts from the oceans. Once the amrita was out of the water, two demons forcefully took the pot and disguising themselves as gods, drank it. The gods of the sun and moon saw this and complained to Lord Vishnu, who cut off their heads. But since the demons had already drank the nectar, their heads remained immortal and it is said that these two demons, Rahu and Ketu, take revenge on the Sun and Moon every year, on the solar and lunar eclipse.
Still in need of the amrita, a war broke out between the gods and demons. To finally put an end to everything Vishnu, transforming as a beautiful maiden called Mohini, managed to deceive the demons and acquire the amrita. In his attempt to escape them, Lord Vishnu passed on the pot of nectar to his winged companion Garuda. But before Garuda could flee, a few demons attacked him and during this fight, a few drops of the nectar fell onto earth. The drops fell in Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain.
It is believed that these drops of nectar cleansed the lands and thus devotees visit the famous Kumbh Mela every year, to wash away their sins.
Both the gods & demons drank the nectar once the battle came to an end, and even though the gods tried to stop the demons from drinking it, they were unsuccessful and thus they both turned immortal. In the end, the fight between good and evil still continues, but what needs to be remembered is that together we can bring a happy ending to every story. With love and unity, good will always win over evil.