Words can barely describe the experience of walking among an estimated 40 million pilgrims at the 2019 Kumbh Mela. As a foreign woman, and on my very first trip to India, this was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
In all honesty I’m still processing what I experienced during this most holy festival. The sights. The smells. The people. The toilets. Oh so many toilets. The hundreds of selfies that people politely asked for along the way. Each and every one I obliged with a big smile and a good hearted laugh. Not to mention the relaxed mingling of the super rich walking side by side with those people living in extreme poverty. It wasn’t just the bridges across the river that bought people together, it is a deeply ingrained spirituality that brings people to the Kumbh.
A brief glimpse into the 2019 Kumbh Mela in Prayagraji, Uttar Pradesh.
Rather then throw random words to describe what I experienced I’ve gathered up a few photos to show you a very brief glimpse of what I experienced. There will be more indepth posts coming up shortly, but I need some time to sleep and process it all. The below photos are taken by myself, on my Samsung Galaxy S9+, unless otherwise credited. I do need to give a heart felt thank you to Lonely Planet Magazine India, Uttar Pradesh Tourism and Moe’s Art for arranging for me to come along on this wild ride that was #chalokumbh2019
The following photos may not be safe for work. The Naga Sadhus are naked in all their glory and there are images of penises coming up. If you don’t want to see a religious penis or two then I suggest you stop scrolling. I have not edited these photos to hide the natural state of these men, as this is literally what you would have seen had you attended the Kumbh.
A very brief over view of what the Kumbh Mela actually is.
I’m sure that for many of you, like myself, you probably have little to no idea what the Kumbh actually is and why people travel for days on end to partake in it. It isn’t a big festival of frivolity, though it is a rather happy affair. The Kumbh Mela is a mass pilgrimage of Hindu people to bathe in the river. The mela itself is a huge affair, with many ashrams setting up a base for pilgrims. There are spiritual sessions, yoga sessions and the usual things you would expect at an event that attracts millions of people.
The Kumb in 2019 runs from January 15 – March 04, and is located in Prayagraj India. At any given place, the Kumbh happens once every 12 years. Just to confuse you a little bit – the Kumbh happens every 4 years but rotates between Prayagraji, Hardiwar, Nashik district and Ujjain. The exact dates for each kumbh is determined, by following the Vikram Samvat calendar and the principles of Jyotisha, according to a combination of zodiac positions of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon.
Sangam nose – Sangam, the confluence of the three rivers of Gana (the Ganges), Yamuna and the mystical river Saraswati.
Basically the Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful gathering of people in the world. The current estimates say that anywhere between 40-50 million pilgrims were at the Kumbh on the 04 February for the Mauni Amavasya, the second Shahi Snan of the Kumbh. Note that this was the most auspicious day. For more information visit the official Kumbh website.
Below photos are credited to – Ajay Sood, Travelure.
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