Snapshots from the largest gathering on the planet!
120 million people congregating at the confluence of two of the holiest rivers in India is a pretty big deal. Words cannot begin to describe the magnitude of the Kumbh Mela, the largest gathering of people that can even be seen from space. The Kumbh Mela is nothing like you’ve ever seen before – even the most crowded Indian metropolises pale in comparison to the scenes before you at Prayagraj. Thousands of colourful tents stretch as far as the eye can see. These have been built by close to 6,000 organisations to which the land along the rivers has been allotted for a specific amount of time. These organisations hosts the millions of devotees and ascetics who arrive from all over the country. The Purna Kumbh Mela or the ‘Full’ Kumbh’ is hosted once every 12 years and the Maha Kumbh once every 144 years (the last Maha Kumbh took place in 2013). What’s underway now is the Ardh Kumbh or the ‘Half Kumbh’ that takes place every six years. The faithful arrive to take a holy dip in the Triveni Sangam – the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers – throughout the duration of the mela. But some days are more important than the others and that’s when the Sangam receives the maximum number of devotees, sometimes as many as 50 million in a single day! The Yahoo guide to the Kumbh Mela has everything you need to know about this unique festival but here are some snapshots of what it is like to be in the midst of the surreal festival that is the Kumbh Mela.