Next week, I will be taking part to the Largest Gathering (or call it migration) on Earth: Kumbh Mela.
This is an outstanding event that only occurs on this scale every 12 years, and going there is a project I have been preparing for over a year and a half now. I will be on a mission to produce a series of portraits of the pilgrims who will come to purify themselves in the waters of the River Ganges, in the vein of a previous project I carried out in Indonesia.
This Kumbh Mela is the largest migration of the last 12 years, as explained by this The Atlantic article :
“Tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims are now descending on Allahabad, India, joining an estimated 8 million already there for the Maha Kumbh Mela. Held every 12 years at one of four places in India, the Kumbh Mela lasts nearly two months and is considered to be an especially auspicious time to bathe in the holy river for purification from sin. In 2001, the last time the festival took place, more than 40 million people gathered in an area smaller than 20 sq. km (7.7 sq. mi). This year, the predicted number of visitors tops 100 million.”
You can see in the gallery below a few images already coming in from India.
This is also the first time I will be traveling to India and it will surely be a cultural as well as a visual changing experience.
I will try to post updates but with 100 million (yes million!) people around and probably saturated mobile infrastructures, it is likely that access to communication tools will be limited at best. The last time the Maha Kumbh Mela happened in 2001, cell phones were hardly in use. This time, logistical challenges created by the foreseen attendance are so important that Harvard University will be detaching a group of scholars to study how a small town the equivalent of a country’s population will be created from scratch at the crossing of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.
See you there soon, say hi on twitter if you’re around!