“Sea of People” and the “Naga Sadhus”, these two iconic visuals become vibrant when it comes to Kumbh Mela. I have just come back, attending the Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 in Prayagraj, and it was an overwhelming experience. There were people and people all around, irrespective of their age, cast and creed, who had come from different walks of life, to attend the world’s largest peaceful religious gathering. On the auspicious occasion of Mauni Amavarsya, more than 4 million people had taken a holy dip at the Triveni Sangam to get rid of the cycle of birth and death. The sense of time seemed irrelevant when I saw families, kids, and aged people taking a dip in the freezing cold, before dawn. It was flooded with pilgrims, devotees, sadhus and tourists all over. I had never seen such celebration of faith, spirituality and humanity anywhere else but in Kumbh. This was a sight to behold. Standing at the jetty point for the boat to take me to the Sangam, I looked around and had understood the enormity and significance of the Mela for the people by then.
Kumbh Mela sees the arrival of not just people in general, but especially saints, philosophers, religious Gurus, scholars, ascetics, and recently the Kinnars, who come here to celebrate spirituality, share wisdom, and practice old tradition. Out of all, one of the major attractions of Kumbh Mela is the Naga Sadhus. The elusive saints carry a kind of mysticism around them, which attracts millions of people to just see them in person. Smeared with holy ash, mostly in their Akharas, these holy men have abandoned the worldly possessions to live a life of oblivion. Nomadic in character, they are the cynosure of all eyes in the Kumbh Mela. But the sacred fair is not only about them, as portrayed by the social media these days. Kumbh Mela is also about celebrating the highest faith in the religious practice and age-old tradition by the people. One has to come and experience it to understand it in its entirety. Though I was trying to register every single observation , but what was really fascinating to watch were the faces of the devotees. The excitement before taking the dip, a sense of accomplishment after taking a holy dip, happiness for being a part of the large congregation and even those people who were looking lost in the crowd, each emotion on their faces was priceless to watch.
I have tried capturing a few of those unforgettable faces into my lens.
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