Over the next 55 days, tens of millions of Hindus are expected to splash through the waters where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet as part of the Kumbh Mela festival, regarded by many as “the biggest human gathering in the world.”
The pilgrims believe that the water will purify their souls of sin and it is a practice that is thought to have been recorded for the first time by a Chinese traveller in the early seventh century AD. The Purna (full) Kumbh Mela takes place in four locations, Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik every 12 years. An Ardh (half) Kumbh is held in Haridwar and Allahabad six years after (and six years before) every Purna Kumbh. The exact timing, duration and location of each festival is calculated according to an astrological chart.
This year’s festival, however, is especially significant as it is a once-in-a-lifetime Maha (Great) Kumbh, which is held after 12 Purna Kumbhs, so every 144 years, and only in Allahabad.
The Origins of Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela comes from one of the most revered chapters of the ancient Hindu Purana texts, in which demigods fight with demons for possession of a Kumbha (urn) full of Amrita, a special nectar that would replenish the strength of the demigods. The fight lasted 12 days and 12 nights, the equivalent to 12 human years. The story goes that during the fight, drops of nectar fell from the Kumbha at the four locations where the festival is held.
The world's biggest gathering
Over the course of the festival there are certain specific days, selected according to astrological factors, that are considered particularly holy. The most prestigious of these is the Mauni Amavasya Snan, the main bathing day which sees the greatest number of participants wading through the rivers; at the last Purna Kumbh Mela in 2001, it’s estimated that around 40 million people took to the water on that day alone. This year the main bathing day will take place on February 10.
Indian government figures suggest that around 70 million people took part in the 2001 festival as a whole. With this edition being a Maha Kumbh, there may be many more than that this time around. On January 14 alone this year, more than ten million pilgrims were expected to bathe by the end of the day.
And where there are modern-day pilgrims, there tends to be plenty of money to be made. Staging the festival (30,000 police officers have been deployed) is thought to have cost the Indian state the equivalent of 150 million euros but the 55-day event is forecast to generate between 1.6 billion and two billion euros-worth of income, with contributions coming from more than a million tourists arriving from outside India.
Copyright © 2015 euronewsMore about:
- 1Iraq intensifies assault on ISIL stronghold, Tikrit
- 2South Korea: Man arrested after knife attack on US ambassador
- 3[Watch] Passengers emergency evacuate crash-landed Airbus A330
- 4The recovery of bodies goes on after Donetsk mine blast
- 5Indian rapist says women to blame for being sexually assaulted
- 1Indian rapist says women to blame for being sexually assaulted
- 2‘Blue’ dress causes internet confusion. Is it white and gold?
- 3Iraq intensifies assault on ISIL stronghold, Tikrit
- 4[Watch] Passengers emergency evacuate crash-landed Airbus A330
- 5South Korea: Man arrested after knife attack on US ambassador
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Slovenia becomes 11th EU nation to approve gay marriage | euronews, world news
- 3Exclusive: CIA and Mossad are behind Boko Haram and ISIL, says Sudan president | euronews, world news
- 4eurovibes - a selection of Europe’s best music talent
- 5Indian rapist says women to blame for being sexually assaulted | euronews, world news
- 6International news | euronews, latest international news
- 7English and Spanish among happiest languages | euronews, world news
- 8Exclusive: Tsipras promises meritocracy, transparency for Greece, urges Europe to put people first | euronews, world news
- 9Tens of thousands march in Moscow in memory of Boris Nemtsov | euronews, world news
- 10Data ‘mocks’ claims migrants try for Europe ‘expecting’ sea rescue | euronews, world news
- 11Watch: Ukraine MPs in fierce fist fight outside parliament | euronews, world news
- 12euronews apps : iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, Nokia S40, Nokia Asha, Smart TV and Google Glass
- 13London calling: why home-loving Hungarians are flocking to British capital | euronews, reporter
- 14‘Blue’ dress causes internet confusion. Is it white and gold? | euronews, world news
- 15[Watch] Passengers emergency evacuate crash-landed Airbus A330 | euronews, world news
- 16Live updates: follow the 2015 Oscars ceremony | euronews, world news
- 17European Union News | euronews: latest breaking news and headlines about European Union
- 18Kosovo emptying out, hopes for independent future exhausted | euronews, world news
- 19Handwriting and the digital age, time for change in schools? | euronews, learning world
- 20Exclusive: Sudan’s Bashir on ISIL, Darfur and accusations of genocide and war crimes | euronews, the global conversation
Wires > News
- 20:45 CET Insight – Nemtsov’s friends ask: where were the police when he was…
- 20:20 CET Gunman’s video says Parliament attack spurred by Canada military…
- 20:08 CET CIA to make sweeping changes, focus more on cyber ops -agency chief
- 19:51 CET Libyan forces say they retake oilfields after attack
- 19:49 CET U.N. council threatens action if chlorine used in attacks in Syria
- 19:20 CET U.N. chief worried by planned Palestinian security cut with Israel
- 18:44 CET Ireland begins to fret over ‘Brexit’ as UK election nears
- 18:41 CET Putin ally says society should resist gay activism