Newada Samogar, Uttar Pradesh 211009, India
An Introduction to the World's Biggest FestivalKumbh Mela is a perfect habitat for exploring "cultural curiosity." It forms a place for the salvation of mankind who wish to be free of the cycle of life and death. No small theme for the world’s biggest gathering. The crowd on the main days is large enough to be seen from space so imagine what it feels like on the ground.
“Kumbh” means pitcher and “Mela” is the word for fair in Hindi. Kumbh Mela has its origin in a mythical battle between Hindu gods and demons over a Kumbh filled with the nectar of immortality. When the planets align in the same position as the original battle, pilgrims flock together at this largest Mela held every 12 years.
In the camps one gets a respite from what has been estimated to be 50-110 million fervent devotees who make the pilgrimage. The 50 square kilometers of riverfront is separated into 14 sectors with impressive, temporary pontoon bridges.
Many of the camps are extremely well-organized, clean, and comfortable. The Indians really know how to organize all the details. Beyond the infrastructure, there’s an enormous crew who exhibit that perfect Indian hospitality. As a hotelier, I was mighty impressed.
If you want to learn more about Kumbh Mela, I would recommend two videos as opposed to reading books: "Shortcut to Nirvana" by my friends Maurizio Benazzo & Nick Day or "Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth."
Both give you a sense of the visual spectacle but, the truth is, nothing can prepare you for the enormity of being there.