Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Immortal Kumbh Mela # 5 - The Sangam

(This is the fifth part of my travelogue over the series on Purna Kumbh Mela - 2013, 'The Immortal Kumbh Mela'. This post is in continuation of the fourth post. The posts in this series will be in a continuous form.)

Gigantic Crowd of pilgrims (amounting to millions) on the banks of the Sangam

When I finally reached Sangam, after taking the Triveni Road, a rare sight came across my eyes. The banks of the Sangam (Confluence of the Rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati) was swarming with people. The multitude of pilgrims extended till the horizon. There was a dull roar which hung like a mist in the atmosphere.

There were no change rooms of any sort.. The pilgrims had to change in the open.. There were some small cubicles for the womenfolk for changing but their mud floors were wet so very few were using them..

Pilgrims were disrobing, besides the banks, bathing and offering prayers. They were setting afloat little float-ables which had small lamps/diyas and flower petals in them. I observed that people who had come in groups were going in batches (instead of going together) to have a dip while the others stayed back to keep their belongings and their spot on the riverbank safe.

Pilgrims bathing in the Sangam

Pilgrims bathing in the Sangam.. Observe the people standing in the water beyond the safety poles..

I came across a semi-clad lady (traveling alone) (in the train when i was coming towards The Sangam) who was crying because her clothes had been stolen while she went bathing and had to roam semi naked until the police gave her a shawl to cover herself. All she was holding, and treasuring, on the way back to her village was a bottle of Gangajal.

Leave aside the riverbank, people had to jostle for space in the water as well to find a quiet place to bathe and pray..

Some pilgrims hired boats to take them to the Sangam Tapu (an island in the middle of the Sangam) (where it is believed that the water is purer) for bathing and praying.. Observe how the Tapu is crowded..

Many Sadhus were sitting on the riverbank and were willingly applying ‘Teekas’ to pilgrims foreheads.
 An ascetic sitting besides the riverbank.. He graciously applied teeka (vermillion) on my forehead..
The sight was massive in its own right. And such a sight occurs only once in 12 years. The view of the banks, which met my eyes, was so overpowering that I had to sit down, under the only tree I could see, and try to soak in the atmosphere. There were millions of people around the confluence of the rivers, and they were present on every inch of the riverbank. All the ghats like Arail e.t.c. were full to the brim and overflowing. There were people on the island in between the Sangam, called the Sangam Tapu, as well.

Observe how the riverbank on the opposite side is swarming with people as well.. There were people to be found everywhere you looked that day..

The largest congregation of mankind on the planet has the power to sweep you off your feet. The view was magnificent to say the least and it was a sight one wouldn’t see for the next 12 years. After staying there for a while I had to make a move back to my hotel and that was a 9 kilometer walk in hot sun.

(Continued in Part 6..)


Great post! It looks incredible, such a mass of people!