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This year took place in Allahabad, India, the Maha Kumbh Mela, the biggest religious gathering of the world attracting tens of Millions of Hindu pilgrims each time. If you want to know where these millions of people are sleeping, about the "parties" after the prayers, and who are this ash-smeared naked people, keep reading my photostory, written according to my participation at the previous Purna Kumbha Mela in Haridwar.

The words Kumbh and Mela literally come from Pitcher or Sun sign (Kumbh) and fair, gathering (Mela). By attending the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, it is possible to be purified from sin, bathing in the water of the Holy river, The Ganga (Ganges).

Maha Kumbh Mela in Haridwar through photos

A number of people estimated between 30 and 70 millions, attended the last Kumbh Mela in 2010, arriving from all over India and from abroad. Part of them arrived by foot, after long pilgrimages.

That's why a number of people estimated between 30 and 70 millions, attended the last Kumbh Mela in 2010, arriving from all over India and from abroad. Part of them arrived by foot, after long pilgrimages. 1Pilgrims-Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6318

Every single room in the city is taken or extremely overpriced. But the majority of the people is accommodated in a huge camp, a temporary city where it is possible to sleep, and attend the activities.

the majority of the people is accommodated in a huge camp, a temporary city where it is possible to sleep, and attend the activities. 2Camp-Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6409

The accommodation is not luxurious, but 2 squared meters are enough to sleep in the ground one next to the other.

The accommodation is not luxurious, but 2 squared meters are enough to sleep in the ground. 3Sleeping-Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6365

The camp is composed of different big tents, each one assigned to a "Baba" or to a different regional group of India. In the same place where the people sleep, also spiritual meeting are held.

The camp is composed of different big tents, each one assigned to a "Baba" or to a different regional group of India. In the same place where the people sleep, also spiritual meeting are held. 4Conference-Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6529-1

In the evening taking a walk in the camp is like having an overview of the Indian folklore: traditional dances and local instruments coming from every region, are shown to entertain the pilgrims.

In the evening taking a walk in the camp is like having an overview of the Indian folklore: traditional dances and local instruments coming from every region, are shown to entertain the pilgrims. 5Folk dances Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6492

When the dance is over, it is possible to join one of the many dreadlocked men, always friendly and welcoming. Sadhus are used to smoke cannabis from a pipe.

When the dance is over, it is possible to join one of the many dreadlocked men, always friendly and welcoming. Sadhus are used to smoke cannabis from a pipe. 6Sadhu Cannabis Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6549

Despite the Ganges is ranked among the top 5 most polluted rivers in the world, everybody is willing to dip in the Holy water to cleanse sins.

Despite the Ganges is ranked among the top 5 most polluted rivers in the world, everybody is willing to dip in the Holy water to cleanse sins. Bathing Ganga Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6376

A friendly Sadhu bathing in the Ganga. Sadhus are ascetic people leaving by donation, that left behind every material possession, to live in caves, forests and temples, meditating and looking for the Liberation as a final goal.

A friendly Sadhu bathing in the Ganga Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6405 Sadhu Bathing

There are some particular days during the Kumbh Mela, called "Main bathing days" in wich an incredible amount of people gather at the same time to bath in the river. These are chose according to astrological calculations, related with the positions of Sun, Jupiter, Moon and the Zodiac.

called "Main bathing days" in wich an incredible amount of people gather at the same time to bath in the river Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6419

This is how it looks like the river bank in Haridwar during one of the main bathing dates. There are teams of people controlling and directing the crowds to give the possibility to everybody to dip in the water.

This is how it looks like the river bank in Haridwar during one of the main bathing dates. There are teams of people controlling and directing the crowds to give the possibility to everybody to dip in the water. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6575 Main bathing day

An indian believer, rigourously dressed, is performing a ritual with the holy water of the Ganges in Haridwar.

An indian believer, rigourously dressed, is performing a ritual with the holy water of the Ganges. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6596

Men instead are allowed to have a more "informal" outfit.

Men instead are allowed to have a more "informal" outfit. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6613

Staying on the banks of the Ganga river, It is possible to assist at interesting rituals, unifying different generations of the same family.

Staying on the banks of the Ganga river, It is possible to assist at interesting rituals, unifying different generations of the same family. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6631 generations

Holy men, can be quite interesting characters, like this Sadhu with distinctive dreadlocks, during his ritual in the water of the Ganges.

Holy men, can be quite interesting characters, like this Sadhu with distinctive dreadlocks, during his ritual in the water of the Ganges. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6669 dreadlocks

An offer on the banks of the river Ganga, Kumbh Mela, Haridwar.

An offer on the banks of the river Ganga. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6702 offers

Despite Gurus are renouncing to everything to follow spirituality, it is still common for them to try to attract followers using poster and commercials.

Despite Gurus are renouncing to everything to follow spirituality, it is still common for them to try to attract followers using poster and commercials. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6706 billboard baba

At the end of the event, a big procession of Sadhus is taking place in the roads. Packed trucks, colorful umbrellas and long beards are the key elements of an incredible scenario.

At the end of the event, a big procession of Sadhus is taking place in the roads. Packed trucks, colorful umbrellas and long beards are the key elements of an incredible scenario. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6714 6738 sadhus procession

A Sadhu absorbed in an unexpected dance is entertaining people along the road.

A Sadhu absorbed in an unexpected dance is entertaining people along the road. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6720 dance parade

People try to catch the attention of the Sadhus passing by during the procession.

People try to catch the attention of the Sadhus passing by during the procession. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6725

Small trucks are loaded at their maximum, to transport the crowd of holy men.

Small trucks are loaded at their maximum, to transport the crowd of holy men. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6789

People are climbing even trees to find a spot to assist at the parade.

People are climbing even trees to find a spot to assist to the parade.Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6794

The "alternative" look of some Sadhus, sometimes is going so far that they wrap themselves in leopard-cloth, wearing Jhon Lennon's glasses.

The "alternative" look of some Sadhus, sometimes is going so far that they wrap themselves in leopard-cloth, wearing Jhon Lennon's glasses. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6797

Even elephants are used as a mean of transportation during the procession.

Even elephants are used as a mean of transportation during the procession. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6830Elephant

A Naga Sanyasis, an ash-smeared sadhu wearing no clothes if not for his accessories.

If you enjoyed this photostory and you want to see more pictures from Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, you can check the full album at this link

A Naga Sanyasis, an ash-smeared sadhu wearing no clothes if not for his accessories. Kumbh Mela Haridwar India 2010 6839 Naga Sanyasis sadhu

Davide VadalàDavide Vadalà
I like to say that I'm a gypsy traveller. In 2009 I quit my job to chase my dream of exploring our wonderful planet in a sustainable way; thanks to my itchy feet, I had a lot of incredible adventures and I got closer to my goal of becoming a travel photographer. I love nature, sustainability, outdoor and hiking, and I never stop dreaming. More about Davide Vadala'. Content attribution on Google +

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Davide Vadal? and Otilia Lefter

We are Davide and Otilia, an international couple with itchy feet, living a non conventional life traveling around the world and learning everyday something new....
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