Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kumbh mela

I just learned about the largest religious gathering in the world last night, and was mesmerized by the photographs of the sadhus. The Kumbh mela in Haridwar, India, is held every 12th year and in 2010 lasts from January 14th to April 28th. This most sacred of the 4 pilgrimages held at 3-year intervals is attended by millions of Hindus, who come to bathe in the Ganges. Hindus believe bathing in the sacred river will cleanse them of their sins and free them from the cycle of life and rebirth. "Because of the way the stars are aligned during the Kumbh, all the good things you do get multiplied and your sins are washed away," said one pilgrim. The crowds include naga sadhus, Hindu ascetics with matted hair and ash-covered bodies, and the saffron-robed members of many other sects. Snake-charmers, palm-readers, and soothsayers can also be found. The city has made preparations for the millions of devotees, including sweeping and repaving roads, adding security forces and shuttle buses, and setting up camps to provide lodging, facilities for electrical outlets, and stations for medical assistance.

Each of the photos above - except for the holy man who hasn't moved his arm for 32 years (3rd image) - will lead you to a slideshow of more of these colorful photographs. As Canadian photographer Algis Kemezys (2nd image) says, "I wanted this collection of Sadhu Portraits to be like going to the Kumbh Mela Festival itself. When walking around Haridwar, you will see thousands of sadhus in one day, but in the end you'll remember only a handful. It is these few that will make a difference to you when looking deeply into the image you feel attracted to by breathing deeply and clearing your head of all the chatter , then see what thoughts enter your mind. A sadhu's image reaches beyond space and time and will always have a soothing effect."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for using my Kumbh Mela Photograph here. I have been interested in cemeteries since I was about 3 years old. I have almost died several times. Here are some of my cemetery images for your enjoyment. Keep up the great work....Cheers...algis Kemezys


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