Maha Kumbh Mela

PhotographerLuigi Vaccarella
PrizePress / Travel/Tourism
Entry Description

According to Hindu mythology, the Kumbh Mela celebrates the victory of gods over demons in a furious battle over a nectar that would make them immortal. As one of the gods fled with a pitcher of the nectar across the skies, it spilled on the Indian towns of Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar. Taking place every 12 years in Allahabad, the most holy of the four cities, situated at the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, the Maha Kumbh Mela is the climax and the very centre of the spiritual life of every Hindu, and is considered to be by far the largest human gathering and religious festival of the world. The ritual baths sees many millions of people, rich and poor, coming from every part of India, from the most remote villages to the big and modern cities to symbolically wash away their sins in the holy Sangam, the place where the tree rivers intersect. Over the course of 55 days, pilgrims wade into the river to bathe and gather on the banks to perform other religious observations along with the Sadhus (holy men) from all the schools, and over 100 millions attend to what is probably the most incredible and outstanding proof of collective devotion and religious fervour that humanity has to offer.