Photoessay: 2013 Kumbh Mela, India

InPEC presents a photo essay of the “Kumbh Mela” at Allahabad in India by Hemley Gonzalez, a Cuban-American activist who runs ‘Responsible Charity’ in the city of Kolkata. 

Find more about Responsible Charity here and feel free to donate here. You can also get regular updates on their Facebook page


By Hemley Gonzalez, 21st February, 2013

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious pilgrimage that takes place every twelve years at one of four places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik in India. More than 100 million people are to attend the 2013 Kumbha mela.

The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the Ganga river. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized.

Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on their skin as per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter.

1. Organised workers carry what was rumored to be a dead body of a lady. 

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2. Pilgrims take a dip in the river.
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3. A member of the Disaster Relief Force helps co-ordinate the holy dips.149412_462228997166024_1266459333_n

4. The pilgrims on any given day were in the millions.
222616_461928877196036_1181536564_n5. On the banks of the Ganga.487880_462037507185173_1526255643_n6. The pilgrims.537910_461928820529375_549674055_n7. A naked sadhu – smeared with ashes – seen on a horse.65767_461867660535491_646347093_n8. A sadhu.556236_461899417198982_1096044007_n9. Photographers throng the banks of the river to take photos of the known faces. 
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10. A sadhu reaches out to Hemley. 563085_461867713868819_1802845817_n

11. A security guard looks on. 600450_461928767196047_1921013506_n

12. The holy dip.
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