One of the most amazing things to witness at the Kumbh Mela festival is the parade of sadhus (monks). The parade takes place on the main bathing just before the auspicious time for the dip in the holy Ganges river. Monks parade from their tented areas in thousands to the river. Here are a collection of photos from the Kumbha Mela festival that took place in 2010 in Haridwar, North India.

Our spiritual and photography tour to the Kumbh Mela festival and north India next February begins in 5 months and 9 days. For those of you who are thinking of joining us I suggest to sign up as soon as possible as it will become almost impossible to get accommodations and even transportation to the festival. Train tickets sell out in a day when they go on sale when what you are attending is the largest human gathering on earth.

 

Ok, I admit I could have come up with a more creative blog post title but at least it gets straight to the point.

At the Kumbha Mela festival that I attended in Haridwar in 2010 I met a monk with really long hair. He invited me to join him and his devotees around a smoldering log that they were sitting around. After being there for a little while he decided to unwrap his turban. Well, it was not really a turban but a big piece of cloth which seemed to be holding a lot of hair on his head.

He slowly unwrapped the cloth and gently extended his matted hair which extended and extended. It was easily over 6 feet long and beautifully matted over many, many years. He was very proud of it and wanted me to photograph this. I couldn’t really tell where he was from but he looked like he was from either Nepal or Tibet. One of many wonderful experiences that I had at the Kumbha Mela festival.

Note our 2013 Kumbha Mela tour and journey across north India is from the 4th of February to the 16th.

 

We continue with our series of photographs highlighting the Ganga Aarti ceremony that takes place at the Kumbha Mela festival in India.

We’ve themed our tour to the Kumbha Mela festival as a spiritual and photography adventure as there’s be countless opportunities for photography during the festival and the days we travel across northern India. Click this link for more information about this Kumbh Mela tour.

The Ganga Aarti ceremony begins and lit oil lamps are waved ceremoniously to devotional singing casting beautiful shades of colors in the Ganges river.

The crowd departs after the ceremony

Thousands leave the banks of the Ganges after the ceremony leaving a ghostly trail in this long exposure image

 

Part of the Kumbha Mela festival is the evening Ganga Aarti celebration down by the banks of the holy Ganges river. Aarti is a Hindu ritual wear an oil lamp or lamps are lit and then waved ceremoniously at a deity. In this case the the holy river is looked open as the deity and the lit lamps are offered at the river.

Hundreds of thousands, if not more, attend this ceremony during the mela. Crowds gather early to find the best seats in the house and huddle along the banks of the Ganges for the ceremony.

Today’s series of photos takes a look at the crowd waiting for the ceremony to begin and tomorrow we’ll share photos from the ganga aarti ceremony itself.

Join our spiritual and photography adventure to the Kumbha Mela festival and across north India next year in February.

Long chains hang from a bridge providing a lifeline for those pilgrims that get swept away in the strong currents

 

The grand 2013 Kumbha Mela festival is only a little over 7 months away. Quite a few people have signed up for our spiritual adventure to this festival and across north India and we hope you will too.

Today, I’d like to share some photos taken by a dear friend of mine, Anna Kastner. She’s attended the last two Kumbha Mela festivals in Allahabad (2007) and Haridwar (2010) and the collection of photos that you see here are from both of these events. Thank you Anna for sharing these photos with me and those that follow my blog.

The Kumbha Mela festival along with all the places we are going to on this journey will provide unparalleled opportunities for photography and hence we’ve themed it a “Spiritual and Photographic Adventure“.

Many man made bridges are created to ferry pilgrims across the Ganges river. Allahabad, India

Sadhus joyfully dive into the Ganges river at Haridwar during the Kumbha Mela there in 2010

Accommodation for the millions of pilgrims range from luxury tents to sleeping along the Ganges river

A sadhu practices the severe austerity of holding his hand in the air for years...

Thousands of sadhus parade along the main street in Haridwar slowly making their down to the Ganges river