JoAnn (Jody) Gillerman
Travel and Culture, Ethnography
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India - Kumbh Mela, Jan. 2019
Allahabad (Prayagraj or Prayag), Uttar Pradesh, India
The point of confluence of 3 rivers is Sangam in Prayag (Allahabad), a sacred place for Hindus. "A bath here is said to wash away all of one's sins and free one from the cycle of rebirth."
Two of 3 rivers are physical rivers - Ganges and Yamuna. The third is an invisible or mythic Saraswati River. When Jupiter is in Aquarius, the Kumbh Mela is in Allahabad, India.
This very large festival, visible from space, happens once every 12 years. There were literally millions (estimated 120 million) of people who came to see and/or bath in the Ganga during the
2019 Kumbh Mela in Allahabad that happened over 6 weeks.
It's hard to define the Kumbh Mela experience - for me it was somewhat other worldly. Everyone I met was freindly and I never felt unsafe amongst lots of people!
I met many many people there who wanted me to take their pictures, wanted pictures of them with me and
curiously it didn't seem to matter whose camera it was on - or if they saw the photo or not?!, so there were a LOT of selfies on their phones - them and me with our heads together.
I just might wind up on some Indian Facebook pages (however, since I am not on FB, I guess I won't ever know ;)!
Almost everyone who took pictures of or with me (if they spoke English, or through my Hindi guide if not) asked "Is this your first Kumbh Mela?" followed by "Do you feel it?".
Clearly it is a highly significant cultural and spiritual gathering for those in attendance. I was there to photograph, record video and Virtual Reality ...