UK & World News
Kumbh Mela: Millions Gather For Hindu Festival
The authorities in the city of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh in India have estimated that as many as 80 million people will attend this year's Kumbh Mela religious festival during its six-week lifecycle.
The Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years and its exact timing is decided by the zodiac. Smaller melas, which is the Hindi word for fair, are held every three years.
Hindu pilgrims from across the country have been arriving at Allahabad since January 14.
Most stay in a tented city which pops up on the flood plains of the River Ganges at its confluence with the River Yamuna.
In Hindu mythology both rivers are holy and the pilgrims believe bathing in the waters cleanses them of sin by eradicating "Karmic debt".
The ritual helps bring the devotee closer to the end of the cycle of reincarnation or "Moksha".
Akhilesh Singh and his wife Munju travelled from the capital city of Delhi to take part;
"Basically my wife wanted to come here to get blessings for our son studying in California. This is a worship to give him a good brain to study out there and we want peace and harmony in our family," he said.
The Kumbh Mela is by far the biggest religious festival in the world.
Its sheer scale has captured the attention of academics.
Assistant Professor of Public health, Greg Greenhough, from Harvard University says the possibilities for study are endless.
"This is a group that comes from all over the world certainly all over India and they bring with them their customs and their ways of living and their own reasons for being here and in that chaotic cacophony they have an experience - that doesn't happen anywhere else in the world," he said.
It is thought the Kumbh Mela started before historical records began. In modern India the pilgrims of today are still coming for the same reasons as their forebears: spititual guidance and enlightenment.
what do you think?
Hope they've got plenty of portaloos.
High caste bathe upstream...
Very very upstream
at least its a peacefull religion..unlike some
hindus verses muslims for centuries. They hate eachother. They all have extremists.
I like how they say ' In Hindu mythology' i think this terminology would upset quite a few people to know that this reporter thinks that hinduism is a myth There would be uproar if a hindu reporter called christianity or islam a myth.
Beware of anybody who really believes these are not 'myth' based, they might feel the need to kill...