Purna Kumbh Mela

 
    • The Purna Kumbh Mela takes place once every twelve years at one of four different locations along the banks of the river Ganga, and is one of the biggest religious gatherings on the planet.

      The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million from the Makar Sankrati (Jan 14) till Shakh Purnima Snan (April 28). The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Paudi and other banks of the river.

      The Kumbh Mela, with its swirling crowds can be as physically daunting as it is spiritually fulfilling for those who believe in it. Thousands of pilgrims, mostly Hindus, flocked to Haridwar for the snan (holy dip).

      The Maha Kumbh Mela ('Great' Kumbh Mela) comes after a cyle of twelve 'Purna Kumbh Melas', every 144 years and is held at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. In 2001, the Maha Kumbh Mela was attended by around 60 million people, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

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A devotee appears as a character from the Hindu religious epics, Ramayan, Mahabharata, on the occasion of Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. Uttarakhand, North India. April 13, 2010.

Sadhus adorn themselves after taking a bath in the river Ganges at Haridwar, in Uttarakhand, North India, a holy place where Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage takes place. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

A woman offering prayers at the river ghats of the holy Ganga at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, North India, on the occasion of the Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

A woman reading holy prayers at the bank of the river Ganges at Haridwar, during Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

A woman performing a religious ritual on the Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar, North India. Kumbh Mela is the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

A panoramic view of Haridwar in Uttarakhand, North India, a holy place where Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage, takes place. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day of January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

A procession of Naga sadhus (monks) who as per tradition have the first right of bathing in the holy Ganges on the occasion of Shahi Snan in Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

Naga sadhus (monks) walk with great fan fare and beating of drums in a procession to the ghats. As per tradition, they have the first right of bathing in the holy Ganges on the occasion of Shahi Snan in Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

Naga sadhus (monks) walk with great fan fare and beating of drums in a procession to the ghats. As per tradition, they have the first right of bathing in the holy Ganges on the occasion of Shahi Snan in Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

People on the either side of the road feel blessed if the Naga sadhus look, wave, or throw a flower at them. The sadhus slowly head to Har Ki Pauri for the holy dip and para-military forces provide security cover. Kumbh Mela is the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

Hundreds of people either arriving or leaving Haridwar during Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.

An elderly woman at the Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu religious pilgrimage on earth. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to exceed around five million since the first day on January 14 till it ends on April 28, 2010. The auspicious days of the shahi snan or royal baths usually draw hundreds of thousands of devotees to the Har Ki Pauri and other banks of the Ganges river. As pilgrims from around the world gather on the occasion, most of the city remains shut for any vehicles other than security or emergency services, so a sea of humanity walks through the city to the bathing ghats. April 13, 2010.