The Biggest Gathering on Earth – Kumbh Mela 2013

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Well that was quite an experience. The Kumbh Mela is not only the gathering of millions of people in 35 square km bathing their sins off in the Sangam. It is also the adventure in itself in trying to reach the place and most of all, to leave it.

I was fairly lucky in getting there, as my train left on time from Lucknow Junction, and it arrived in Allahabad only 2 and a half hours late. However, once there, and after seeing with my own eyes the actual mess that that place was (never seen so many people in my whole life), I decided it was a better idea not to leave on the 11th as I had planned, but on the day before, the major bathing date of the whole festival, and so when the people would come, not leave.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one to have this bright idea.
The train station was overflowing with people, the trains were hours late and no one gave a crap if you had pre booked a ticket: the important thing was to get on that train, whatever it was, as long as it took you away from there. The biggest gathering on earth in the most chaotic country in the world, what can you expect?
I joined forces with Carlo, Igor, Yaser and a lovely French family of four, fighting our way up the first train which would go to Varanasi – not the one I had the ticket for and 3 hours after I reached the station. Words cannot describe the 10 hours journey on that train, so just be patient and wait for the video I will post soon with clips from it. Seriously, it is quite something.
Regarding the Kumbh itself, I was a bit disappointed. It was no way near as spiritual as I thought it would be (I’m no religious person, but I go with the feelings I get from such occasions), it seemed a whole exploitation of the supposedly holy event to place ad banners all over the places, plus, what’s up with these Sadus?! They spend their days under a tent smoking pot in a pipe with their mates, giving blessings to the poor believers who even offer them the little money they own, and sometimes doing some crazy circus-like stuff to attract tourists (10 Rupees become 100 with them, you know), such as rolling their penis around a wooden or metal  stick and having someone standing on it.
Gross, and disappointing.
Do I regret going? Not at all.
Would I do it again? Very much no.
Overall it was a good experience, something that everyone should do once in their lifetime – even though it looks like the next Mela will be sponsored by Dominos or similar. Yes, streets vendors have already started to be evicted this year, perhaps to prepare people to this fact.
Have you been there? What were your thoughts on it? I’d love to hear someone else’s opinion!
Here are few shots I took while there just to give you a taste.

 

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One Response

  1. […] Girl, Zagreb… This is my friend Igor’s beautiful daughter – I met him (with Karlo and Yaser) on a train in India and ended up travelling with them to Varanasi for a few days. Our paths soon split up, but we met […]

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