(photography by burnedshoesarts)
“The Maha Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering on earth, is held every 12 years on the banks of Sangam, at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Lasting 55 days, it is celebrated at the holy site of Sangam in Allahabad; in 2013, by the time it’s over, around 100 million people will have made the pilgrimage to the festival.
But how does one show the largest gathering of people on the planet in photographs? My photojournalist colleagues and I had been planning for months to try and document the Kumbh Mela, but there seemed to be no concrete information anywhere on the best way to organize our shoots. The most basic questions were difficult to answer:
How would we cover the event? Would we work on the ground? From the water? And, most fundamentally, how would we differentiate our work from the work of countless other photographers covering the gathering? How, in the end, does one convey something so unfathomably vast in pictures?” (Daniel Berehulak, read more)
Check out more stunning panoramas of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on TIME LightBox.
Find more Kumbh Mela photos (also some of mine) in my archives. I have been to the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in 2010 and it was a life-changing experience. Special thanks to Sunil, Kritika, Pakshalika & Pranayini for the wonderful time, I miss you guys so much…
BURNÉD SHOÉS AND THE ASHES OF THE KUMBH
My friend and part-time niece Sandra asked me several times when I will finally publish more of my India & Kumbh Mela photos. Today I wrote her to check my blog at about 3:15pm CET for a surprise, and I ended the mail with “Namasté.”
Hello Sandra! Sorry, you still have to wait a little longer… but as I couldn’t find any ‘Amrita’ (the nectar of immortality) in Haridwar, I decided to hurry up and post some of my photos very soon, I swear ;) and remember:
“Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the diamond.”
― Kahlil Gibran
Seeing these wonderful panoramas also makes me want to share my work within the next days or maybe weeks (depending on my travel plans) - both digital and analog (I’ve planned to get a decent film scanner soon).
Are you also interested in my impressions of India? If yes: be prepared.
The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. All along her course, Hindus bathe in her waters.
When visiting the Kumbh Mela in 2010 I nearly took a bath there, too - unintentionally. Maybe I’ll tell you the whole story one day… and if your first world problems give you the blues then I can highly recommend to visit the next Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2013. It could possibly change your life.
“The Ganga is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her racial memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture and civilization, ever-changing, ever-flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga.” (Jawaharlal Nehru)
“This photo was taken during the 2007 Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. This was during the sadhus’ procession to the Sangam to bathe on Mauni Amavasya, the new moon for the saints. It was very early in the morning, and there was a thick fog that added an even greater sense of magic and mystery to this ritual.” (caption by Greg Vore)
I first saw this photo before I went to Haridwar in 2010 to visit & photograph the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which nearly 100 Million Hindus gather at the Ganges river. I really recommend being part of the Kumbh Mela once in your lifetime - it’s an experience you will never forget!
For my German speaking followers: Together with some friends I produced a 40 minute radio feature about the Kumbh Mela 2010 in Haridwar for the Austrian station “Radio OE1”, you can listen to it here.
After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote:
“It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”
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