As far as cultural festivals go, the Kumbh Mela is the largest Hindu gathering of pilgrims in the world. The festival, which takes place during an auspicious time every three years,  is celebrated at different locations depending on the position of the planet of Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) and the sun. 

The mela is organized every three years (and not 12, as often believed) on a rotation basis of Prayag (Allahabad), Nashik, Haridwar and Ujjain. Let’s break it down for you –If Jupiter and the Sun are both in Leo –  Nashik, if the Sun is in Aries – Haridwar, If Jupiter is in Taurus and Sun in Capricorn – Prayag and if Jupiter and the Sun are both in Scorpio – Ujjain.  This year it is being held in Nasik.

Some very talented photographers have captured the essence of Kumbh Mela in these beautiful pictures.


1. The first day of the Nasik Kumbh Mela/Snan. A proverbial calm before the storm.


2. Pilgrims to this festival come from all walks of life ranging from Naga Babas, Sadhus and  regular Indian families who are great devotees who seek soul cleansing.

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(Image Courtesy : Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)


3. Naga Sadhus who reject a life of luxury in devotion of Shiva often paint their faces with paste made out of white ash. These holy men cover themselves with chalk and ash as it represents their death. Other Naga Sadhus paint themselves according to the deity they have devoted themselves to.


(Image Courtesy : AP)


4. An elderly Bhakt couple pray before taking the holy Snan/dip in the Godavari river in Nasik. This ritual as they believe will cleanse them of all evil and sins.


(Image Courtesy : Reuters)


5. It’s a long walk : Thousands of devotees and Naga Sadhus make their way to banks of the river. This festival is heavily regulated by the police as well, just in case mishaps happen.

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(Image Courtesy : Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)


6. Blowing the conch is part of the procession. Sadhus and Naga Babas chant, sing and performer ‘feats’ to prove their devotion to the lord Shiva.


(Image Courtesy : AP)


7. The painstaking task of painting the ash. Not one spot on the body must be missed.

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(Image Courtesy : Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)



8. Naga Babas concede to a life of frugal living, while depending on begging and food they find in order to survive.


(Image Courtesy : AP)


9. The Naga Sadhus head towards the river in an orderly fashion.


(Image Courtesy : AP)


10. A screaming child being forced to take this cold dip.

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(Image Courtesy : Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)


11. While some other parents are more gentle with their kids.

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(Image Courtesy : Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)


12. That glorious water..


13. Some Hindu Gurus are highly respected and have an almost rock-star like devotee/fanbase.

Kumbh-Mela-chair_ AP PhotoBernat Armangue

(Image Courtesy: AP /Bernat Armangue)


14. A Sadhu stands on his head as devotees offer him arms.

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(Image Courtesy : Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)


15. Smoking any form of Marijuana or Cannibis is a very integral part of a Sadhu’s life.

AP PhotoRajanish Kakade

(Image Courtesy :AP/Rajanish Kakade)